Of the many tributes to U.S. Representative and civil rights leader John Lewis appearing since his death, particularly moving is the video clip Henry Louis Gates, Jr. posted from his “Finding Your Roots” television program, in which Lewis tearfully reacts to the sight of his great-great grandfather’s name on the 1867 Alabama voter registration rolls.
This reminder of the promises of Reconstruction amidst the current examination of the roots of systemic anti-Black racism prompts our curiosity about the political activities of the formerly enslaved persons and free Blacks living in Davenport in the years following the Civil War. One Albert Nuckols persistently exercised his right to participate in the political process, despite tepid support from the white community.
“Prince Albert” as Nuckols was known, arrived in Davenport in 1854 with his wife, daughter, and George L. Nickolls, son of his former master. Nuckols had just purchased his and his wife’s freedom from R.C. Nickolls while serving the family in Franklin County, Missouri. He worked as a bill-poster, whitewasher, and janitor from room 12 on the corner of Brady and 2nd Streets, the “Nickolls Block,” until his death in 1889. He was recognized as a leader of the African-American community, nearly always called upon to speak at the celebrations commemorating the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1865, he organized an event with a purpose: “Albert has determined upon a Festival at LeClaire Hall, on Monday evening January 1st, for the purpose of raising funds to alleviate, in a measure, the sufferings of his people.” (1)
Nuckols’ participation in civic life included experience with legal proceedings: a suit against him for payment of rent money was decided in his favor, and he won a replevin suit against another man in the August 1860 court term. (2) In 1868, he was part of an effort to defend the rights of four Blacks who had been refused service by the “aristocratic gentlemen of color” who owned the Delmonico restaurant on West 2nd St. (3) Nuckols, his friend J.H. Warwick of Davenport, and Alexander Clark of Muscatine were the first African Americans to serve as jurors in the state of Iowa.
It was the “Party of Lincoln,” the Republicans, that had Nuckols’ support. In September 1869, he was named a Scott County delegate to the state convention in Des Moines alongside fellow “colored citizen,” Henry Simons. Simons, a barber, was included without controversy, but when Captain J. W. Pearman suggested Nuckols in place of John Hornby, the committee on credentials’ leader George H. French reportedly “couldn’t swallow two n—-rs.” (4) Nuckols’ departure on the train to Des Moines was news, the Democrat calling him “…the acknowledged leader of the Republican colored delegation to the State Convention and the most polished gentleman and accomplished speaker of the entire delegation…” (5)
In July of 1872, Nuckols spoke passionately in support of Ulysses S. Grant’s second term as President to an assembly of Republicans. “Albert really made the best speech of the evening, and was cheered,” said the editors of the Democrat. The article disparaged the local party and its meeting, so they also characterized Nuckols’ invitation to speak as the Republicans’ “last resort.” (6)
Albert Nuckols was the only African American candidate for Representative at the Republican county convention (Scott) in September 1873, (7) and one of two (the other was his friend, hairdresser and wig-maker John H. Warwick) for Scott County Treasurer in October 1875. (8) Nuckols received no votes in the first contest, and he and Warwick received just one vote each in the second. Nevertheless, Nuckols remained active. He was present the following year at a gathering of “Independent” Republicans, traditional Democrats (many German immigrants) favoring Rutherford B. Hayes as President over their own party’s candidate, Samuel J. Tilden. While “[l]oud calls were made for Albert Nuckolls” to speak, meeting chairman and Der Demokrat editor Henry Lischer “…was evidently not prepared to go this far, and made arrangements to have an adjournment before Albert could have a chance to talk.” (9)
Albert Nuckols remained in the public eye through the late 1870s and 1880s: He managed and addressed various Emancipation celebrations, and in 1877 he debated another local “colored orator,” Emanuel Franklin, on the topic of Masonry versus Christianity in a much-anticipated and well-attended spectacle. (10). He was invited to the pulpit at the African Methodist Church in Davenport to deliver the “Central Attraction of the 19th Century,” his 1886 discourse (possibly printed) on the life of Jesus Christ. (11) He spoke in support of a Kirkwood governorship in Iowa later that same year. (12) Just months before his death, “‘Prince Albert’ Nuckels, the colored Republican, made a brief, forcible address on the enslaved condition of the Republican ballot at the South” at a county gathering, the “Republicans’ Last Charge,” according to the Daily Times of November 6, 1888.
Newspaper obituaries admired the way Albert Nuckols had led his life as a citizen of Davenport. He was “highly esteemed by all classes” said the Gazette; “…a well-known and popular citizen…a gentleman always in demeanor and in language,” said the Morning Democrat. Perhaps the most substantive praise was offered by the Weekly Republican, who noted that despite a lack of educational opportunities, Nuckols had “…instructed himself in a greater or less degree, and was posted on political and religious subjects.”
On July 12, 1940, a modern, four-lane highway bridge was dedicated and opened to traffic. This bridge was named Rock Island Centennial Bridge. Its structured design supports the “present day high speed passenger and transport traffic” and serves not only local commuters but also the “motor travel on U. S. Highways 67 and 150 (Howard 1). This bridge boasts box girder rib tied arches, which was unusual in the United States at the time. It has a simple design unlike the I-74 or Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge whose first span was built in 1935 and its twin in 1961 and the Government Bridge built in 1896.
Notable features of the Centennial Bridge include its claim as the first bridge across the Mississippi with four lanes as well as having the lowest rates of any toll bridge on the Mississippi River. Centennial Bridge also would meet the needs of the growing cities it would serve. As stated in Final Report on Construction of the Mississippi River Bridge between Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa, “In 1938 the Government Bridge carried more vehicles than either the George Washingon Bridge in New York or the San Francisco Bay Bridge in California” (Howard 4). The need for this bridge was evident and bolstered by the growing populations and industrial and community interchange between Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island and Moline in Illinois.
The history of this bridge begins in the mid-1930s with city officials of Rock Island, civic-minded men, and Mayor Robert P. Galbraith. In order to garner support for this new bridge, they retained Ash-Howard-Needles & Tammenm, a consulting engineering company. They provided the valuable information to make a case for constructing a bridge in the proposed location and the type of bridge most beneficial to the community.
On November 23, 1937, Congressman Chester Thompson of Illinois introduced H.R. 8466 a bill “‘Authorizing the City of Rock Island, Illinois, or its assigns, to construct, maintain, and operate a toll bridge across the Mississippi River, at or near Rock Island, Illinois, and to a place at or near the City of Davenport, Iowa'” (Howard 6). This bill received presidential approval on March 18, 1938, thus securing necessary approval for continuing their bridge building plans.
Construction of this bridge began on March 6, 1939. The bridge was completely financed by the City of Rock Island with no obligation to the taxpayers and without any financial support from federal or state governments. There was an unsuccessful attempt to secure funding through the Public Works Administration which helped fund the I-74 bridge construction. The bridge’s cost was $2,500,000 in revenue bonds issued in the name of the City of Rock Island.
Next on their agenda was securing a location for the bridge. The location was to provide quick access to the retail districts of the two cities. The official termini were 15th Street in Rock Island and Gaines Street in Davenport.
The box girder tied arches was a combination of two types of spans: the tied arch spans and girder spans. This design resulted in “a harmonious, logical, economical and aesthetically satisfying layout” (Howard 8). Additionally, the bridge featured sodium vapor lighting for the roadways and both sodium vapor and incandescent lamps in the plazas.
To celebrate this momentous event, the completion of the City’s new sewage treatment plant, and the 100th year of the City’s existence, an elaborate dedication program was planned. A host of prominent speakers including Lieutenant Governor B. B. Hickenlooper of Iowa and Charles P. Casey, director of the Illinois department of public works. The ceremonial ribbon was cut and a bottle of champagne was broken by Miss Bonnie Galbraith, daughter of Mayor Robert P. Galbraith.
The zenith of the festivities was a dance held in the Rock Island Armory with Freddy Martin’s famous orchestra supplying the music. On the day of the dedication, the bridge was toll free until midnight.
In July 2017, the Rock
Island Centennial Bridge was renamed Master Sgt. Stanley W. Talbot Memorial
Bridge in honor of Master Sergeant’s service as an Illinois
State Police Officer. He passed away during an incident of someone
trying to flee a roadside safety checkpoint at the intersection of 15th
Street and 2nd Avenue.
In our collection, we have a variety of material regarding this fascinating bridge. One that helped us to tell its story today is the Final Report on Construction of the Mississippi River Bridge between Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa by Howard, Needles, Tammen & Bergendoff.
Howard, Needles, Tammen & Bergendoff. Final Report on Construction of the Mississippi River Bridge between Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa. (Kansas City, MO : 1945)
Wheeler, Blake. “Bridge Dedicated and Opened to Traffic.” The Daily Times, vol. 54, no. 178, July 12, 1940: 1, 24.
2020 has been a chaotic year for all of us. Each person has had their life disrupted in some way from working from home, not being able to see loved ones, and so much more. At the beginning of the Pandemic, we wanted to create a writing project where people of all ages could express how they are feeling, coping, and managing to live through this unexpected, life-changing event. This would also help us to capture this period of history through the words of the people in preserving real-time reflections about life in the Quad Cities during the COVID-19 era.
We asked that people submit a writing piece of at least 200-500 words about how they were coping. We gave examples of the various creative writing formats for different age groups, but participants could write in the format of their choosing.
We started off thinking that this project would just last a few weeks, but it garnered interest from the community and we extended the project with another phase that recently ended at the end of June.
Phase I astounded us because we had 28 entries from all age groups.
Some of the writing prompts included: What am I grateful for? Who have I come to admire? How have I changed?
We created videos to help the community come up with ideas about what to write about and to learn more about this project. In this approximately 14-minute chat, Kathryn and Lynn talk about the importance of this writing project, suggestions for writing pieces, and how to submit them. Watch their chat here: QC Life in the New Normal Writing Project Conversation.
Phase I entries have been judged and we are pleased to announce the winners of the QC Life in the New Normal Writing Project Contest: Kate James, Lily Campbell, and Audrey Hayden. Each winner received a $20 gift card either to the Book Rack or Crafted QC. We have listed their entries below for your reading pleasure.
“Then It Happened” by Kate James
With the dawn of the New Year came hope for new beginnings. I was just trying to get by since 2019 was especially challenging. It was the second week into 2020 that my son became so ill he couldn’t eat, drink, or stay awake longer than 30 minutes at a time. I was tempted to take him to the hospital since nothing I was doing was helping.
I called my father and he told me this: “Katie, sometimes all a child needs is his mom to be there to love and protect him.”
As Spring Break was around the corner, increasing news coverage about a virus that originated in China began to make many nervous. When I stopped at a Dollar General before heading out of town, every customer had a package of toilet paper.
“Buy it when you can! They predict there will be a shortage!” a customer warned everyone in the check-out line.
That’ll never happen, I thought, still buying a package, though.
Spending a few days in rural Missouri without internet left me unaware of the magnitude of paranoia back home. As my father in-law watched Good Morning America I overheard the term ‘social distancing’ used for the first time: closures, cancellations, quarantine.
“Yeah, that’ll never happen!” I said as I rolled my eyes.
As we set out for home we heard news of the district I taught in delaying school for an additional three weeks following spring break due to the efforts to contain the virus. We then heard on the radio of two states that had cancelled school for the rest of the year.
“Boy, you’d go crazy without work or shopping or being out and about for the rest of the school year!” My husband chuckled.
“Yeah, but that’ll never happen,” I replied anxiously.
I began the new normal. Lucky for me, this Covid-19 crisis was not the first difficult circumstance I had to adapt to over the previous year. I was becoming more malleable to challenges I thought would never happen.
What made 2019 especially challenging took place eight months earlier: my beautiful, sweet little boy was diagnosed with Autism. I thought it would never happen. I knew Autism wasn’t a death sentence, for which I was grateful, however it felt like a life sentence. As I struggled accepting and processing this diagnosis, I was thrown into a new way of life that included 30 to 40 hours of intensive intervention therapies for my not even three-year-old son. Did I feel great? No, but I was learning how to cope.
With the emergence of the Covid-19 Crisis, something that I said would never happen forced me to change, but it was okay because this wasn’t the first time. One sunny, warm afternoon a month after the social distancing order went into effect, my son and I walked along a path in Bettendorf at Devil’s Glenn Park. Typically I was terrified to have him walk without tightly holding on to his hand. As many Autistic individuals are prone to wandering and running off, the fear of losing him kept me from letting him go. However I knew that someday he would be too big, too strong to keep a firm grasp. I had to let him learn. I took a deep breath and let go of his tiny hand. He stopped, looked at me, and slowly, a bright smile spread across his tiny, round face. We walked together, side by side. We saw fluffy clouds in the vibrant blue sky, birds chirping as they flew by, and the sounds of the babbling stream guiding us along the way. As we walked back to my car, I peered down to see my precious, golden-haired boy still paddling alongside of me, and felt an epiphany. I had been so devastated and overwhelmed by a diagnosis that I felt should never happen that it took a global pandemic to make me stop and realize all the beauty that was still around me.
Uncertainty can be terrifying. We don’t know what will happen by the time this pandemic comes to an end. We can live in fear and be miserable due to the way in which our lives have had to change, or we can take each moment in each day and try to see it through a lens of optimism, even in the darkest hours. It is the most difficult skill to acquire, but over time you become better at it. The uncertainty of Hunter is what keeps me going. I don’t know what will happen in one year, five years, 10 years—but I have right now. While the future could be as equally wonderful for Hunter as it could be terrifying, right now is what can make the difference. While I didn’t think I was capable of providing what a child like Hunter needs—a child with Autism—the Covid-19 Pandemic of the New-Era Roaring Twenties has shown me that as long as I love and protect him, he’ll be okay.
“Maxie’s Story” By Lily Campbell
Here we go again all standing in our starting positions. Little did I know this would be my last performance with my team.
The music started and the crowd began to cheer. It was all so loud and I loved it. We had practiced this routine so many times but I still got nervous for my stunts.
The girls threw me up in the air and I soon felt lots of hands underneath my foot. I hit my double back tuck. I smiled so big when the crowd started to cheer even louder. Next was the pyramid. We all had to hit our marks or it would be a disaster. I felt hands on my feet again and then got thrown. I tucked and flipped and hit again. Everything else fell into place and we hit the whole routine! We have one more competition before the championship.
I was in my dorm getting ready for practice. I started walking down to the gym when I got a notification that said that school was being cancelled until April 1st due to a virus called Covid-19. I was in shock and did not really know what to think about it. I walked back to the dorm and called my parents. They told me that I could just come home for those two weeks and just to pack what I needed. They said that school would resume after all of this was over. Not to worry about anything.
My teammates all started texting about what was going on. All wondering what this would do with our competition coming up soon. Would we still have it or would it be postponed? They certainly would not cancel the championship. They would not cancel an event that we have all been working so hard to get to. We were all so uncertain about what would happen. I told my roommate that I would see her in a few weeks and I left for home.
That night at dinner, we all sat down and watched the news. All kinds of new reports were coming out about the virus. Reports about how this virus was killing people. It was scary to hear. The reports were telling people to have little contact with others. After hearing these reports, I had a feeling that I would not be going to my last two competitions. How can you social distance yourself from your team? A few days later we got the news that our competitions were cancelled. It was so disheartening that it brought me to tears. I would never get to cheer again since I was a senior. I would never be with my team again. The following week, school decided that we would have to finish our courses online. I would not be returning to finish out my senior year. I was beyond sad. I thought I still had a couple months. I thought I still had time. I thought things would be different.
“QC Life in the New Normal” by Audrey Hayden
Coronavirus has changed everything, life as we know it! Everyone is stuck at home, and now more than ever, our community needs one another but we cannot help each other, because then we would be putting one another at risk. My life has definitely changed, not for better or worse, it’s just become different.
Before Coronavirus started affecting my life, I’d get up at 6-6:10 every morning to make breakfast for me and my sisters. I would do my morning routine, and then walk with one of my sisters to her bus stop, and wait for her bus there. I would always bring my dog, and then after her bus came me and my 7 year old sister (she’s homeschooled) would walk about ½ mile with Scout (Dog). By then it would be about 8:00 so I’d get my stuff together for school, and play outside with Scout, or my 7 year old sister, and if it was too cold for that, we’d watch TV. At 8:27 I would go to my bus stop, and when I got to school I would wait on the eighth grade side. When I got home I would walk Scout, and then probably play outside with my sisters. We would eat dinner, go back outside, and then we would come in and just hang out for a bit.
Now, I get up between 6 and 7, eat breakfast, walk my dog, watch TV, or make a Tik Tok. Then I do online school from 9-11, go to sudlow and get lunch, Dance or go outside until dinner, continue dancing or being outside, come back in and hang out. It’s a bit boring but it’s not that bad. I am going to try to write a book about what’s going on right now. I’ve gotten really invested in staying in shape for the softball season, and I have new personal records for a lot of different things. I really miss going to school, but I’m glad that I can focus on things non school related, things that I don’t learn about in school. I know a lot more now than I did at the beginning of this. I read 50 fun facts everyday, and select a few each time to post in my Honors English optional learning classroom. Did you know strawberries can taste like pineapple? Or that the military uses dolphins to find underwater mines? MIT has free online courses that you can take, so I’m currently trying out Linear Algebra, but I am thinking about maybe doing a different one. I do wish that I could have said bye to my teachers, because next year I will be in highschool and will not get to see any of them again most likely. I wish that life could go back to normal all ready, but for now we can just make the best of it.
“Even today, after a century and a quarter of national progress, we find the ideals of the Declaration of Independence still unrealized. The great woman’s movement is teaching us that women come within a proper construction of that document and we are coming to know that there is something fundamentally wrong in the idea of exclusive male suffrage. And it is to the everlasting story of American womanhood that we are being forced into that position, not by means of the destruction of property and the taking of human life, but by such things as the establishment of kindergartens and public playgrounds and the promotion of a sane Fourth of July. No other argument for woman’s suffrage is needed than the fact that Davenport has gone for years without a civic Fourth of July celebration until the women took it into their heads that we should have one and now we’ve got it.”
Realff Otteson, orator at 4th of July celebration in Vander Veer Park on July 4, 1913
Davenport’s first “Sane Fourth” was celebrated on July 4, 1913, at VanderVeer Park. The morning program was organized by a committee led by Mrs. Seth J. (Alice) Temple of the Davenport Woman’s Club. More than 1,500 people, the great majority of them children, gathered under the shade of the trees at Vander Veer Park to eat; listen to a band play patriotic songs; attend the speech by local attorney Realff Otteson; watch and/or participate in the little girls’ doll buggy parade, Swedish folk dances, the girls and boys wand and dumbbell drills, or participate in boys’ races in the afternoon.
The doll buggy parades continued to be an attraction at Sane Fourth celebrations through 1918. The parades were so popular that they became their own summertime celebration at not associated with Independence Day through the 1930’s and were brought back in 1999-2009.
The following are newspaper accounts of these adorable baby doll stroller processions from the 1910s.
1914 – 44 girls and 10 boys, led by a team of 2 children pulling a third in a go-cart, marched around the grandstand. The leaders were Marian Frahm, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bert Frahm, 1230 Arlington Avenue and Raymond Sandford, son of Mr. and Mrs. Howard W. Sandford, 18 Roosevelt Flats. Miss Maxine Knowles, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert R. Knowles, Arlington Avenue rode in the go-cart.
1915 – 73 girls ages 2-5 years and 1 boy (Albert Weston Kerker, 3-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy P. Kerker, 2315 Ripley Street) pushed their buggies while a band played for 10 minutes. Some of the buggies were covered in hollyhocks, poppies, and cornflowers, some with tiny American flags and some with brightly colored bunting. The parade was directed by Mrs. Edward H. (Mabel) Sandford assisted by Fred Wenentin, chairman of the committee in charge of the celebration.
1916 – Nearly 50 little girls participated in the parade. Madelyn Baxter, dressed to represent the Goddess of Liberty, gowned in the national colors and wearing a gold crown on her head, led the parade. Her buggy was also decorated in the national colors.
Margaret Bischoff – purple buggy
Barbara Balluff – buggy with pink background decorated with roses
Mary Sanford – poinsettia dress and buggy decorate in white and blue with poinsettias
Mildred Berger – pink buggy
Lucille Downs – red, white, and blue buggy with matching dress
Ruth Carroll – buggy decorated with daisies and a blue background
Beatrice Longworth – buggy decorated with white and pink rosettes
Lucy Roney – buggy decorated in pink with two large pink rosettes on the handle
Jane Roney – little chariot decorated in red, white, and blue with matching dress
Eva Charvat – buggy decorated with green and white poinsettias
Audrey Cummins – buggy decorated in blue and white stripes
Ursula Estes – buggy decorated with pink roses
Pauline Carlson – buggy decorated with flags
Bernadine Brennan – buggy decorated in dark red roses
Ella Matthews – buggy decorated with ferns
Carmela Brantzel – decorated with red, white, and blue flags
Margaret Bewley – buggy decorated in blue and white
Evelyn Doyle – buggy decorated with white and blue poinsettias
Katherine Anderson – buggy decorated in green and white with dark red roses
Katherine Keiber – pink buggy
Margaret McDonald – buggy decorated with flags
Helen Trede – buggy decorated in red, white, and blue colors
Helen Denger – pink and white buggy
Beulah Martin – white and yellow buggy
1917 – 25 little girls participated in the parade. Many of the buggies were decorated with American flags and the flags of the allies while others were decorated as Red Cross ambulances. A boy’s patriotic parade led by Uncle Sam and Columbia followed the doll buggy parade.
1918 – The girls wore red, white, and blue dresses and their doll buggies were prettily decorated in the national colors. Older children from area schools presented military and patriotic drills.
(posted by Cristina)
“First Sane Fourth Day Is Big Success,” Davenport Democrat and Leader, Friday, July 4, 1913.
“Thousands See First Daylight Fireworks Here,” Davenport Democrat and Leader, Sunday, July 5, 1914.
“Thousands Crowd Parks to Celebrate Glorious Fourth in Davenport,” Davenport Democrat and Leader, Monday, July 5, 1915.
“Thousands Go to Parks for The Public Fourth of July Celebrations,” The Daily Times, Monday, July 4, 1915.
“Sane Fourth a Glorious Event at Vander Veer,” Davenport Democrat and Leader, Tuesday, July 4, 1916.
“Thousands See Fine Pageants at Vander Veer,” The Daily Times, Tuesday, July 4, 1916.
“Some of The Participants in The Doll Buggy Parade,” The Daily Times, Wednesday, July 5, 1916.
“Independence Day in Davenport Celebrated by Children at Parks,” The Daily Times, Wednesday, July 4, 1917.
“Many Celebrate The Fourth at Two City Parks,” The Daily Times, Friday, July 5, 1918.
We would like to celebrate with the Davenport Fire Department. On June 20, 2020, the Fire Department announced the addition of a new Truck 1 into their fleet. This new fire truck replaces one purchased in 1996.
This, of course, started us thinking about the first motorized fire truck owned by the Davenport Fire Department. We were excited to start our research on the topic.
We learned that the first motorized vehicle owned by the City of Davenport was purchased in 1911 for use by Fire Chief Peter Denger. This four seat auto was to be used as the Chief’s car and emergency fire vehicle. It was produced in the Buick Auto factory of Flint, Michigan. Upon completion in June of that year, it was shipped to Chicago where Chief Denger drove the vehicle back to Davenport with a Buick representative. The drive taking eight hours with speeds reaching 22 mph. Very impressive for a 39 horsepower vehicle.
The experiment with an auto was so successful, Chief Denger insisted that the City purchase new motorized fire trucks and wagons. He insisted that motorized vehicles were going to stay in use while horse-drawn vehicles would become obsolete.
The Davenport City Council listened and purchased a motorized tractor to pull the aerial wagon stationed at Central Fire Station (this station is still in use at 331 Scott Street) and a motorized hose wagon for use at Hose Co. #4. In earlier years, #4 was known as the Mt. Ida Department.
Hose Co. #4 was located at 1502 Fulton Avenue in 1913. The address was changed to 1502 E. 12th Street in 1919. In 1931, Hose Co. #4 moved to its new station on East 11th Street and Jersey Ridge Road. *
The new equipment was purchased from the Seagrave Company of Columbus, Ohio. The tractor to pull the aerial wagon cost $4,725 and the hose wagon $5,025. By February 1913, the new equipment was in possession of the Fire Department.
We believe we have an image of the Seagrave hose wagon in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center. This truck matches the style of the Seagrave truck produced between 1912-1913 and has the No. 4 of the Mt. Ida station painted on. The small brass plate under the seat is that of the Seagrave Company. Though undated, we believe this is a photograph of the original truck.
The Davenport Fire Department moved forward quickly with new equipment. By 1916, all horses were phased out of the department and replaced by motorized automobiles.
Congratulations once again to the Davenport Fire Department and thank you for your continued service!
Today is Juneteenth. The increased interest in the experience of African Americans since the abolition of slavery, occasioned by the renewed call for racial justice in these times, means that many of this year’s celebrations are focused on educating the public about the nation’s past, including the history of the holiday itself.
While Iowa and Illinois would not make Juneteenth a state holiday until 2002 and 2003, respectively, Davenport and other communities throughout the country began holding festivities once Texas declared it in 1980. The first Juneteenth celebration in Davenport was held in 1989. The nonprofit United Neighbors, Inc. organized celebrations through the 1990s and first decades of the 2000s; the Friends of MLK took over in 2017.
Although the 1989 celebration was the first to be called “Juneteenth,” Davenporters had commemorated the end of slavery in the United States since the end of the Civil War. On the evening of January 1st, 1866 an “Emancipation Festival” was held in LeClaire Hall. According to that morning’s Davenport Daily Gazette, an event like this, “conducted under the auspices of colored people” was “a novelty;” the editor had encouraged white citizens to “go to the Festival and show that you are in earnest about desiring the weal of all humanity…” In fact, the African American community had picniced in celebration at Mitchell’s Grove the August before:
While we must investigate our local newspapers further to be certain (with thanks to local historian Craig Klein for starting us on this project), it appears either or both January and August-September emancipation celebrations continued up through First World War. Attendees and participants often came from Moline, Rock Island, Muscatine, Clinton and elsewhere in the region. Speeches, singing, brass bands, and dinners were all typical of these celebrations. A report in the August 2, 1891 Davenport Democrat lovingly describes the barbecued meats that were served. That year ‘s event also featured a baseball game between two “colored” teams, the just-formed Davenport Blues and the Molines; there was dancing into the evening, both before and after supper.
More research should yield more details about how Juneteenth and its predecessor holidays were celebrated in Davenport and the Quad-Cities area. Stay tuned for updates, and please share with us any memories or memorabilia you might have!
Today celebrates 150 years since the dedication and grand opening of Schuetzen Park, primarily used by Davenport Schützen Gesellschaft. On June 12, 1870, a public festival beginning with a parade at 9:00 a.m. from the old Turner Hall located at Third and Scott Streets with Major Gustave Schnitger as Marshall of the day. He had two aids to support his work, Fritz Quickenstedt and Louis Hanssen (Davenport Schuetzenpark Gilde, 2). The parade’s route found its way to the park whereupon its arrival salutes were fired from “an Army cannon procured from the Rock Island Arsenal by August F. Schmidt, an active member” ( (Davenport Schuetzenpark Gilde, 2).
To help celebrate this momentous anniversary, we would like to feature vignettes about a few of the first members of the Davenport Schützen Gesellschaft later the Schuetzen Verein.
Heinrich Jacob Christian Berg was born on October 6, 1827, in Schleswig. As a young man, he was apprenticed to the royal gun-making trade at Schleswig. He was a veteran of the Schleswig-Holstein war of 1848. He came to American in 1850 and spent some time in New York, Chicago, and St. Louis, before settling in Davenport in 1852.
Henry married Louisa Maria Henrietta Rusch on November 13, 1854. The couple had 9 children: Julius, Emil, Adolph, Harry, Frank, Ed, Ella (Mrs. William) Sindt, Minnie (Mrs. Ernst) Wenzel, and Katherine (Mrs. Fred) Nabstedt.
Mr. Berg had a gunsmith business on the northeast corner of Third and Harrison. He was a member of German Pioneers, Kamopfgenossen Verein, and was president and shooting master of the Davenport Shooting Association.
Henry Berg died on October 20, 1906, and is buried at Oakdale Cemetery.
Johann Nicolaus Ludwig Hanssen Sr. was born on January 27, 1821, in Itzehoe, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany to H.F. and Margaret (Strum) Hanssen. He apprenticed under his uncle at his art store in Kiel then worked at a wholesale glove and hosiery store in Hamburg. When war broke out in Schleswig-Holstein in 1848, he was named Secretary of the ordnance enlisting bureau at Rensburg.
Louis came to Davenport in 1849 to look after his sister. The steamer Helen Sloman was wrecked at sea and the passengers, including Hanssen, were picked up by the British sailing ship Devonshire, which landed in America on December 31, 1849.
Louis Hanssen married Marie Sophie Hanemann on April 15, 1854. The couple had 10 children: Wilhelmina (Mrs. Gustav) Schumacher, Emma (Mrs. J.H.) Hass, Clara (Mrs. John) Albus, Alma (Mrs. Emil) Palm, Helene, Dora, Louis Jr., Charles E., Gustav A., and Bernard C.
Hanssen was one of the organizers of the Davenport Turner Society and the Schuetzen Gesellschaft. He and Christian Mueller were members of the same Turning class in Kiel.
A few years after his arrival in Davenport, Hanssen founded a hardware store bearing his name. Hansson’s Son’s Store grew as a family business becoming “one of the largest hardware establishments in the entire west” (“3 Generations in Family Build Up Immense Business for Louis Hanssen’s Sons,” 52).
Louis Hanssen died on January 22, 1908, and is buried at Oakdale Cemetery.
Jens Lorenzen was born on April 6, 1833, in Leugumkloster, Schleswig, Germany. He settled in Davenport in 1856 and worked as a clerk in a store before starting the Jens Lorenzen Crockery Company.
Jens married Agnes Kaack on April 15, 1868. The couple had 9 children: Elise (Mrs. Ed) Berger, Martha Brandt, Elsie (Dr. F.H.) Dueser, Theodore, Marie, Laura, Herle, Hilda, and Paul. Their residence was 629 West Sixth Street.
He opened his first retail crockery store on September 1, 1857, on the east side of Harrison Street between Second and Third streets, built a new store in 1871 on Third Street between Main and Harrison streets and added the Lorenzen Block in 1890 on the southeast corner of Third and Harrison streets.
He was an organizer and board member of the German Saving Bank, Director of the Davenport Water Company, Founder and first President of the Mutual Insurance Company, and Treasurer of the School District.
Lorenzen purchased the land for Schuetzen Park, was a member of the German-American Pioneer Association, the Davenport Turngemeinde, and Davenport Shooting Association
Jens Lorenzen died on October 10, 1909, and is buried at Oakdale Cemetery.
Christian L.H. Mueller was born on March 1, 1823, in Heiligenhafen, Holstein, Germany. At the age of 16, he started a 5-year apprenticeship as a merchant. In 1844, he started his own business in Kiel.
In March 1848, he participated in an attack and capture of a fortified post at Rendsburg, Holstein. He was wounded in several battles during the rebellion and was taken prisoner in July 1840. He spent 9 months in a hospital in Denmark.
Mueller arrived in Davenport in July 1852. He first worked in a vinegar factory which was destroyed by fire in 1854 and lost everything. He worked in sawmills in Davenport and Lyons, Iowa, and became manager of the French & Davis sawmill and lumber business. In 1868, he purchased interests in Dessaint and Schricker and became sole owner in July 1883. He associated with his sons Frank, Edward, and William in January 1895.
He married Elfreda J. A. F. Claussen in July 14, 1854. The couple had 5 children: Hilda (Mrs. Henry) Matthey, Frank W., Edward C., William L., and Alfred C. The family residence was 530 Ripley Street.
He was an instructor in the Kiel Turner Society. He was a founder and the first president of Davenport Turngemeinde, and founding member of the Davenport Schuetzen Gesellschaft.
Christian Mueller died September 10, 1901, at his home and is buried at Oakdale Cemetery.
Schuetzen Park is planning a Sesquicentennial Celebration this autumn on September 26, 12 – 4 p.m. Visit the beautiful wooded park and pavilion to learn more about this historical landmark a part of Davenport’s history.
“Death closes a long career: Henry Berg, veteran gun dealer, called away Saturday.” Davenport Democrat and Leader. Sunday, October 21, 1906 : 12.
“Sudden death of Louis Hanssen, Sr.: ends a short illness, just before 87th birthday observance.” Davenport Democrat and Leader. Wednesday, January 22, 1908 : 9.
“Jens Lorenzen answers summons: death calls one of Davenport’s most beloved citizens.” The Daily Times. Monday, October 11, 1909 : 6.
“A noble life ended: sudden death last evening of Christian Mueller”. Davenport Daily Leader. September 11, 1901 : 6.
“3 Generations in Family Build Up Immense Business for Louis Hanssen’s Sons”. The Davenport Democrat and Leader. December 31, 1929 : 52.
In preparation for the festivities, we will be blogging about our resources for different Mayflower families throughout the year. This month we’ll explore the family of the Mayflower passenger with the most ancestors, Richard Warren!
Richard Warren was born ca. 1585 in County Hertford, England, and died in 1628 in Plymouth. He married Elizabeth Walker on April 14, 1610 in Hertfordshire.
Mr. Warren was not part of the church in Leiden and may have joined the Pilgrims as a Merchant Adventurer from London. He was one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact and was part of the early expedition to Cape Cod.
His wife and 5 daughters did not come on the Mayflower with him. He waited 3 years until he felt conditions were safe before sending for his family aboard the Anne in 1623. All 7 of his children lived to adulthood and had large families, making him one of the most common Mayflower ancestors with over 14 million descendants.
The first generation of Richard Warren descendants:
Mary, born ca. 1610, married Robert Bartlett in 1629 in Plymouth.
Ann, born ca. 1612, married Thomas Little on April 19, 1633 Plymouth.
Sarah, born ca. 1613, married John Cooke on March 28, 1634 in Plymouth.
Elizabeth, born ca. 1615, married Richard Church on March 7, 1636 In Plymouth.
Abigail, born ca. 1619, married Anthony Snow on November 8, 1639 in Plymouth.
Nathaniel, born ca. 1624 in Plymouth, married Sarah Walker on November 19, 1645 in Plymouth.
Joseph, born ca. 1627 in Plymouth, married Priscilla Faunce ca. 1653 in Plymouth.
Want to learn more about Richard Warren’s descendants? Stop by the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center and browse through volume 18 of Mayflower Families through five generations (SC 929.2 May)
Over this past Memorial Day, we have been reflecting on people who served and supported their country during peace and war times. In our Archive and Manuscript Collections, we have many collections that recall and record personal and organizational accounts of service. In this blog, we would like to spotlight a specific group that started in 1919 and two of its members.
The American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) is an auxiliary organization of The American Legion composed of women who served and supported the nation and spouses of American war veterans who wanted to continue to support their country and community as they did during times of conflict. Founded in 1919, the ALA is dedicated to supporting “The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad” (“History“). This 100-year-old organization is founded on a spirit of service, not self. Over the course of their history, they have advocated for veterans, educated our citizens, mentored youth, and promoted patriotism, good citizenship, peace, and security (“History“).
Davenport was no different than many American cities that had citizens wishing they could show support for their country and armed forces. The local unit of The American Legion Auxiliary were an active group within the community and abroad. They presented plays, coordinated veterans’ funerals, developed a drill team of some renown, and more.
Zella Cox and Edith Lucier were early members of The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 26 who served at home and aboard to share patriotism and support of the United States Armed Forces. Even though we are only sharing stories about two women, there are many more who helped develop this organization into a flourishing asset in the Quad Cities community.
Zella Dee (Edwards) Cox was born on August 2, 1902 in Belle Plaine, Iowa to Lambourne A. and Abigail Jane (Webb) Edwards. She was married to Charles H. Cox on February 18, 1922. Zella was an active member of the local unit of the American Legion Auxiliary where she served in many different capacities and assisted with a multitude of events throughout her sixty years of service. She was at one time appointed the chairman of a committee.
Edith R. Lucier was born September 15, 1903 in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin to Henry and Bertha (Vogt/Voight) Lucier. She married Martin D. Leir on May 29, 1937. Edith was a graduate of the Immaculate Conception Academy in Davenport. She was a bookkeeper at Samuels Jewelry Office for 45 years. She had one child with Martin named Charles M.
Zella and Edith demonstrated the perseverance and skill to serve on various committees and groups within the local unit. They were also active members who were able to travel abroad with the Drill Team.
The documents below show Zella and Edith’s names on the passenger lists from the Cedric, a sister ship to the Celtic and was 685 feet long, documenting their travel overseas.
In 1927, the Drill Corps or the “singing legionaires” attended the opening session of the American Legion Convention in Paris, France. In our collection, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 26, we have a scrapbook created by Zella detailing the young women’s adventures across the United States and Europe and many photographs taken of the notable group. There were many articles and photographs taken of the Drill Corps from Davenport, Iowa. Here are a few images from the collection.
During their lives these women dedicated themselves to many causes where the American Legion Auxiliary was only one of them. Zella Cox and Edith (Lucier) Leir lives were celebrated with obituaries published respectfully in the Quad-City Times on May 10, 1984, and May 19, 1998.
American Legion Auxiliary Unit 26, 2004-07, Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center, Davenport Public Library, Davenport, Iowa.