San Fran 49er Fan – Iowa Connections   

If you watched last weekend’s NFL Divisional playoffs, you probably saw some Iowans in action! Did you know that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, “Mr. Irrelevant”,  was a very successful quarterback at Iowa State University? He seems pretty relevant now!

Were you aware that 49ers tight end George Kittle was born in Ames and was a University of Iowa Hawkeye where he met his Dubuque-born wife, Claire Till – Hawkeye Women’s Basketball standout? 

Best of all, do you remember football legend Roger Craig, #33 of the San Fran teams of 1983-1990, was from Davenport?  Well, these images from Davenport High School’s yearbook the Blackhawk from 1977-1979 are proof positive that Roger Craig’s high-stepping style started right here in Sofa City!

According to a Quad-City Times article from January 23, 1985, Craig’s first football team was the Creighton Vanguards in the Davenport Midget Football League. He wore number 55, an unusual number for the running back. Evidently, the 10-year-old wasn’t allowed to be a running back because kids over 95 pounds weren’t allowed in the backfield. He was placed at the end instead! In this grainy newspaper picture, he is third from the left in the front row.

Quad-City Times (Davenport, IA), Jan. 23, 1985, page 11.

As he matured, Craig became an all-around athlete participating in track, wrestling, and football. He became a school and state record holder in a number of categories.

He was a member of D’s Club, too – a service club for CHS lettermen.

Blackhawk Yearbook, Davenport High School, 1979.

Roger Craig graduated from Central in 1979 and chose to attend the University of Nebraska, earning an opportunity to play in the Orange Bowl.

With the San Francisco 49ers, he was a three-time Super Bowl champion and is a 49ers Hall of Fame member. Later he played for the LA Raiders and Minnesota Vikings prior to retirement.

Davenport Central inducted him into their Hall of Honor in 1989 and he became a member of the QC Sports Hall of Fame in 1987. 

According to an article entitled, “Roger Craig: Where is 49ers Super Bowl champion RB now?” published by BVM Sports, Mr. Craig continues to be athletically active, running in marathons. The article also states he is affiliated with “TIBCO Software”, a firm focusing on big data and software integrations as well as “Sports Thread”, a social media-based network connecting student-athletes with teammates, coaches, parents, and fans.

Sports announcers said Mr. Craig attended last weekend’s game against the Dallas Cowboys. Wouldn’t it be amazing if he could join a viewing party at one of the Davenport Public libraries if the San Francisco 49ers go all the way to the Super Bowl? Aww, who am I kidding? I bet he’ll have a front-row seat in Arizona to watch Brock Purdy and George Kittle. But we will always have the yearbooks to enjoy our Iowa hometown sports hero and imagine that someday Roger Craig high-steps into Special Collections to do some research! It’s a great time to be a San Fran 49er Fan!!! Go Hawks!!!!!

Blackhawk Yearbook, Davenport High School, 1979.

(posted by Karen)

Kluge, Cody. “Roger Craig: Where is 49ers Super Bowl champion RB now?.” BVM Sports. BVM Sports – Best Version Media, LLC., Sept. 1, 2022. Jan. 28, 2023.

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interactive Map: Davenport’s Early Black Community

One of our favorite resources is accession 2004-67: African American residential patterns in Davenport, Iowa. Compiled by Craig R. Klein of Scott Community College, the collection consists of photocopied maps showing African American residential patterns in Davenport, Iowa in 1867, 1890-91, 1900-01, 1910, and 1920.

Klein noted the location of churches, fraternal organizations, schools, parks, businesses, and residences of professionals on each map. He gathered information from city and business directories, federal and state census, county histories, church histories, Davenport newspapers, and the Iowa Bystander.

We have taken the information from these physical maps and created this interactive map. Each map (1867, 1890, 1900, 1910, and 1920) is a separate layer, so you can select the year or years you want and explore Davenport’s early black community.

(posted by Cristina)

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

St. Elizabeth’s Fire: Nurse Anna Neal

January 7th marked 73 years since the tragic St. Elizabeth’s fire occurred in Davenport, Iowa. A fire that not only changed safety standards locally but throughout the entire United States.

Forty female patients and one nurse perished that freezing cold night as firefighters, police, and hospital workers desperately tried to save them. The window bars and locked doorways meant to protect patients prevented help from reaching them in time.

For more information on the St. Elizabeth’s fire, please read our previous blogs Part I and Part II.  

Over the years, we have tried to learn about the women who died in that tragic fire. Today we are remembering Mrs. Anna Neal, the nurse who died trying to save her patients that fateful night.

Anna Rang was born in Germany on May 8, 1894, to Andrew and Mary Rang (most likely Andreas and Maria/Marie in German). It is believed she grew up in or near Euskirchen, Germany from newspaper reports, obituaries, and her death record. We’ve had trouble locating records of Anna or her family online. Possibly, if it is a small area, they have not been digitized or there is a chance the records were destroyed during World War II.

Anna would have been 20 in 1914 when World War I broke out. There is a possibility she may have married and been widowed with a son before she met American soldier Herman W. Miller about 1920 in either Euskirchen or Bonn, Germany.

Herman (also spelled Hermann) W. Miller was born in St. Louis Missouri on April 15, 1887. His family settled in Davenport in 1907 and Herman enlisted in the United States Army in 1915. By the start of World War I, he had achieved the rank of Sergeant and was deployed to France as part of the American Expeditionary Force. On July 25, 1918, at Chateau-Thierry, Herman was seriously wounded by a bullet to his hip and exposure to mustard gas. He returned home to recuperate at Camp Dodge in Iowa.

The Davenport Democrat Leader, October 6, 1918. Pg. 9

Herman remained in the Army with a promotion to Lieutenant and was sent back to Germany in 1920. It was during this time he married Anna Rang and their daughter Mary Ann was born in Bonn, Germany on January 12, 1921.

It is unknown when Herman returned to the United States, but we found Anna and Mary Ann arriving in the United States on the ship Cantigny on April 18, 1922, with other war brides and children. The family quickly settled in Davenport near Herman’s family.

Life was not easy for Herman due to his injuries, and he was moved to a Veterans’ Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri in 1925 as the mustard gas caused paralysis in his body. He died there on January 8, 1926. His remains were returned to Davenport and he was buried in Pine Hill Cemetery.

The Daily Times, January 9, 1926. Pg. 4

After being widowed, Anna took on work as a seamstress. Then on October 2, 1926, Anna married mechanic Herman E. Joens of Davenport who was divorced with three young children.

The 1930 U.S. Census finds the family living in Davenport. In addition to the three Joens children, there is a Herman Miller age 9 who is the stepson of Herman Joens. It is the only time we find a young Herman Miller listed living with Anna.

We found Herman W. Miller’s obituary in 1926 only listing his daughter Mary Ann and no other children.  Young Herman is not listed on the ship manifest for his mother and sister’s immigration. One conclusion is he might have been born from a first marriage (or out-of-wedlock) of Anna and remained behind with other relatives (possibly his father’s family). As young Herman’s language spoken was German in the 1930 census it is possible he was visiting his mother and her family at this time.

Anna seems to have led a quiet, but busy life between 1926 and 1942. She raised her stepchildren and daughter and belonged to several women’s clubs. Then in February 1943, Anna Joens was granted a divorce from Herman on the grounds of Cruelty (a standard divorce complaint). Household goods were divided between the two and Anna received a one-time payment of $100 instead of alimony. As all children were grown, custody was not needed.

Anna took back the last name of Miller and began to work as a nurse. By 1947, she was a nurse at Clear View Sanitarium at 4117 Eastern Avenue. At this chiropractic institution, patients were treated for nervous and mental disorders according to their advertisements in local papers. The institution emphasized a modern home-like quality as well as its quality of being fireproof.

In 1948, Anna was told her mother was in poor health. Euskirchen was under British control and she applied to the British embassy to be allowed to visit her mother. Civilians could not move around Germany without permission during this time. The British and American embassies granted her 30 days to visit her mother with the requirement she provides her own food as few rations would be granted to visitors. Anna left on September 19, 1948, to return home for the first time since she left as a World War I war bride.

The Daily Times, August 24, 1948. Pg. 8

Upon her return in November 1948, Anna was interviewed about the conditions in Germany. Anna reported that she felt sorry for elderly Germans, but not for the younger generations who created the problems. She was hopeful some of her family might immigrate in the future.

It was also during the late 1940s that we find Anna connected to The Temple of Spiritual Unfoldment. The group originally met in the Vale apartments, but later moved to Odd Fellows Hall at 508 ½ Brady Street. Anna was listed as the director of the group. She gave talks at the service such as “The Conditions in Europe” after her trip.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, September 2, 1949. Pg. 11

On June 23, 1949, The Daily Times printed a marriage license taken out between Albert Neal of Albia, Iowa, and Anna R. Miller of Davenport. Albert was a thirty-three-year-old World War II veteran. How did the thirty-three-year-old and fifty-five-year-old met? We do have a guess.

We found the address used by Albert when filing his World War II bonus paperwork in May 1949 matches the address of Anna from the City of Davenport Directory of 1949 – 729 Western Avenue. The older Victorian home was owned by William L. Hamilton, a machinist at the Rock Island Arsenal. There was a small apartment or single rooms to rent in the home. It seems likely the two met as boarders in the Hamilton home.

It was around June 1949 that Anna left her employment at Clear View Sanitarium to take a job as a graduate nurse at St. Elizabeth’s.  

Anna, dressed in her nursing uniform, started her job at 11:00 p.m. Saturday, January 7th, 1950. Her co-worker, Lucille Kalloway, described Anna’s physical features during the coroner’s inquest as being about 5 foot and slightly heavyset. She seemed to have some type of deformity to her left hip which caused her to walk with a limp. One shoulder raised higher than the other and Anna wore glasses to read.

A few co-workers would later indicate Anna seemed not herself at the start of the shift. She had asked for that night off, but was refused and was told she could have Sunday, January 8th off instead. Anna Neal was described as “huffy” or “depressed” as she started her duties.

Lucille Kalloway was to finish her shift in St. Elizabeth’s at 11:00 p.m. but stayed until 11:30 p.m. to assist Anna. It was taking longer for patients to settle for the night, especially Mrs. Elnora Epperly on the main floor. This young woman was a private patient prone to hallucinations. Elnora kept wandering into another patient’s room that night disturbing her as the nurses tried to get the women in their beds.

Finally, after taking Elnora back to her room several times, Lucille latched Elnora’s door shut with a hook so Lucille could continue to check on patients on the upper floors with Anna. She had already taken matches and cigarettes from Elnora as standard evening practice. They would be locked away until the next day when they would be given back to the patient.

No one knew that Elnora had obtained her husband’s silver lighter during his visit that day. A few hours later, Elnora believed she saw her husband being held against his will in another institution, St. Joseph’s. Trying to signal for help she lit a newspaper on fire with the lighter and waved it near an open window. Her curtains soon caught fire.

Anna Neal was on duty alone that night after Lucille left. A live-in aide, Josephine O’Toole, was asleep in her room on the second floor (third floor when looking from the outside). It was shortly after 2:00 a.m. when Anna heard Elnora crying and pounding on her door to be let out as there was a fire. Anna opened the door and the flames immediately escaped helped by the strong breeze coming through the open window.

Anna was faced with three floors of patients, locked doors, barred windows, no sprinkler system, and no fire escape plan.

Elnora, Josephine O’Toole, and a few patients on the main floor escaped. Anna continued to move room by room, floor by floor, trying to get the patients to leave. Some were able to follow her as she led them to the stairs in small groups while others refused to leave their rooms and crowded by windows screaming for help. The fire moved quickly throughout the building.

Eventually, Anna was overcome by the fire. Likely trapped, she retreated into an empty bedroom on the main floor. She was found lying on the floor near a bed by the firemen and carried to the hospital’s emergency room. There, she was officially declared dead. Her body showed signs of burns and smoke. Anna Neal had given her life to try to save her patients.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, January 8, 1950. Pg. 3

Anna was buried in Pine Hill Cemetery near her first husband Herman Miller. She left behind her husband Albert, daughter Mrs. Mary Ann Petersen of Davenport, son Herman Miller of Germany, her mother, four siblings, and four grandchildren.

Anna’s story does not end with the fire though. It was Lucille Kalloway who first spoke of Anna’s special abilities. She was described as a “fortune teller” by several people. Those meetings of The Temple of Spiritual Unfoldment included Anna asking those attending to write questions on pieces of paper that she would then answer. It seemed Anna could see into the future.

The Daily Times, January 13, 1950. Pg. 21

Those who knew her said she predicted the election of Harry Truman in 1948, the Rock Island Central Junior High fire (December 11, 1949), the Kathy Fiscus tragedy (California, April 1949), and a recent prophecy of severe flooding in the Midwest (which was ongoing in early January 1950). Several people came forward to verify the claims and mentioned how Anna had answered their questions when they asked her for help.

Why would Lucille have mentioned this special ability? About two weeks before the St. Elizabeth’s fire, Anna Neal predicted a large hospital fire would kill 40 – 50 people in Davenport. Her husband Albert stated he never attended her meetings, but she talked frequently about the predicated fire to him.

It seems that Anna knew events were coming, but not the cause or how to stop them. One can only imagine how Anna Neal felt as the fire began to spread in St. Elizabeth’s that night knowing she had predicted the event and outcome. Despite this, Anna had the courage to keep working to save the lives of others over saving her own.

(posted by Amy D.)


  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader, October 6, 1918. Pg. 9
  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader, February 21, 1919. Pg. 9
  • The Daily Times, February 24, 1919. Pg. 7
  • The Daily Times, May 9, 1919. Pg. 9
  • The Daily Times, October 28, 1920. Pg. 17
  • The Daily Times, January 9, 1926. Pg. 4
  • The Daily Times, October 4, 1926. Pg. 6
  • The Daily Times, October 5, 1926. Pg. 10
  • The Daily Times, December 31, 1937. Pg. 42
  • The Daily Times, February 13, 1943. Pg. 4
  • The Daily Times, August 24, 1948. Pg. 8
  • The Daily Times, September 25, 1948. Pg. 10
  • The Daily Times, November 24, 1948. Pg. 8
  • The Daily Times, December 4, 1948. Pg. 12
  • The Daily Times, June 23, 1949. Pg. 13
  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader, September 2, 1949. Pg. 11
  • The Daily Times, January 7, 1950. Pg. 9
  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader, January 8, 1950. Pg. 3
  • The Daily Times, January 13, 1950. Pg. 21
Posted in Local History | Leave a comment

Armenian Refugees in Scott County

In the news a century ago this January was the question of admitting survivors of the Armenian genocide into the United States. [1] These articles beg the question: Were there Armenian immigrants who settled in Davenport and Scott County in the 1920s? 

The FamilySearch Wiki page for “Armenia – Emigration and Immigration” points researchers to the Armenian Immigration Project, an online database gathering ship manifests, census records, military records, vital records and other resources that may be searched by location. The results of a query for “Iowa” show that the city of Bettendorf, especially, and also Davenport, had notably-sized populations of Armenians a century ago.

The ship manifests are especially helpful for establishing relationships, as they include the name of the individual that the traveler left in Turkey as well as the name of the individual they intended to join in the United States.

For example, Serkis Bedoian is the uncle Mariam Pidadjian leaves (with her six-year-old son Oanes) to join her husband Levon in in Davenport in late 1920; he is also the uncle to Mikael Saroian, who leaves in May 1921 to join his other uncle Leon Bedoian in Bettendorf.  Later, in September, Mikael’s wife Takoui then also names Serkis Bedoian is the uncle she leaves to join her husband. Although we cannot be sure the use of the word “uncle” was literal, these families were clearly connected in some way.

Another example is Kerverk Sarkissian and his wife Satenik leave cousin Avedis Sarkisian to join another cousin Art Tarpinian in Bettendorf in November 1921. In October of the following year, Avedis then leaves Turkey with relatives Arzad, Heo, and Krekor Sarkisian to join John Sarkisian at 624 State St. 

In 1923, Ohanes (John) Krikorian and wife Verkin join their friend Garabed Vartanian at 313 Gaines St. in Davenport.

This photograph comes from his naturalization record in Detroit, MI — another type of record indexed by the Armenian Immigration Project.

Those who received these immigrants were part of a local Armenian community that had been growing during the 19-teens. Sahog Derderian, Nichan Doghanian, Minas Karadjajan, and Asdour Zakarian, for example, were already settled in the area and were prepared to help relatives and friends arriving as a result of the Adana massacre of 1909 and the fallout from the Balkan Wars, 1913-14. Perhaps more research into these names will reveal more about the kinship networks that brought them to Scott County.

Another type of record available via the Armenian Immigration Project is the World War I draft registration cards: three Bedoians (mentioned earlier), Sambat (33), Leon (45), and Baldose (19) registered in September 1918.

The occupations listed in these men’s records show that the Armenian community was developing around employment at the Bettendorf Company. The 1920 US Census bears this out. Notice the number of people born in Armenia (single boardinghouse residents and family groups in the E. State St./Mississippi Blvd. area) working in the “car shops” or the “foundry” listed on this page:

The 1910 US Census, by contrast, shows very few Armenian-born Scott County residents: Charles Vartanian, age 75, was a servant for the Wilson McClelland family; Casper Sabasian, also 75 years old and also employed as a servant, worked for the Charles Shuler family.

While there is no other evidence of how or why these men came to live in Davenport, the experience of George Bogosian, recounted by him in a 14 Jan 1905 Daily Times article, suggests they may have survived an earlier period of violence: the Hamidian massacres of the 1890s.

Bogosian described his harrowing escape. He, his father, and two cousins fled into the mountains as they were forcibly marched from their home in Huacnik by Turkish soldiers. The soldiers shot as them as they ran, wounding one of his cousins. As he faltered, the soldiers caught up to the cousin and shot him between the eyes. He told of other atrocities he witnessed, including a slain infant and children thrown into fires as their parents watched in horror.

Bogosian could soon be found every day between 2 and 3 o’clock in the front windows of the Drake Furniture Store in Davenport, dressed in his “native Oriental costume” and demonstrating rug-weaving. [2]

Hopefully, Bogosian and the later Armenian immigrants that began new lives in Scott County met success as United States citizens.

Please let us know if you have traced your Armenian ancestors back to Davenport, Bettendorf, or the greater Quad-Cities area. We hope to further develop the portrait of the local community in the future!

(posted by Katie)

[1] Haskin, Frederic J., “Refugees Knock at Our Doors,” Davenport Democrat and Leader, January 1, 1923, page 6.

[2] “Daily Weaves Oriental Rugs,”Davenport Democrat and Leader, April 18, 1905, page 9.

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

In Memoriam: Geraldine “Gerri” Bowers

Gerri Bowers.

On Christmas eve, we lost a dear friend, volunteer, colleague, and supporter, Gerri Bowers. We are deeply saddened by this loss, which will be felt by us at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center and across our community. She was involved in activities in the Village of East Davenport and was instrumental in preserving the legacy of Bix Beiderbecke.

Her dedication to preserving the past was demonstrated through her work with the Bix Memorial Jazz Society, the Bix Beiderbecke Museum and Archives, and the Davenport Public Library. Gerri volunteered with the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections for several years until 2020 when she needed to stay home with her husband, Kent. Even if she couldn’t attend an event, her presence was felt through the support she gave. One memorable instance of this was when she was unable to attend a genealogy night potluck event, but she still made a dish for sharing! It was a tasty salad! Starting in 2018, Gerri supported the first Quad Cities Archives Crawl by representing the Bix Museum and giving a detailed and interesting presentation on the life and works of Bix Beiderbecke. She gave another fascinating program on Bix the following year at the reimagined Quad Cities Archives Fair.

Geraldine “Gerri” Bowers was born February 15, 1939, in Centerville, Appanoose County, Iowa, to Daniel Wesper Hurt and Lucille Foster. She was one of eight children. Daniel and Lucille married on January 12, 1920, in Centerville, Iowa. Daniel passed away on December 1, 1942. In 1954, when Gerri was fifteen, Lucille remarried Ralph McKinley Boyer. He died on September 8, 1956.

According to the 1940 United States Federal Census, Gerri was living with her father, mother, paternal uncle, James, and her siblings, Joseph, Dorothy, James, Lester, Elmer, Howard, and Franklin. Her father was listed as a laborer with a birthplace of Missouri. Her mother’s birthplace is Iowa. Appanoose County is along the border of Iowa and Missouri, so it would make sense for individuals living in this region to meet and start a family.

The 1950 census documents the Hurt household as composed of Lucille, Howard, Franklin, and the eleven-year-old Gerri. Daniel passed away two years after the 1940 census. Lucille is listed as a maid at a hotel.

Gerri attended both Centerville and Davenport high schools. According to the Davenport City Directories from the mid-1950s, she lived with Joseph, her brother, and his wife, Edna.

According to a newspaper article “Davenport woman loves her ‘living history room'” by Alma Gaul, Gerri met Kent Bowers, her husband, when they were 14 and 16 years old in Lindsay Park. Kent Louis Bowers was born to Cecil O. “Bud” Bowers and Wilhemenia Schlapkohl in Davenport, Iowa, on August 29, 1936. They married on June 29, 1956, at Our Savior Luthern Church at 2524 Central Avenue in Bettendorf, Iowa. Gerri was 17 years old, and Kent was 19.

Gerri worked as a waitress at Walgreens Drug Co. located at 201 West 2nd Street. Her new husband, Kent, worked for the Harvey Construction Company of Bettendorf.

Before her marriage, Gerri lived at 921 West 3rd Street or True Apartments. Kent was residing at 2012 East 11th Street in the Village of East Davenport. Their first home together was at 1424 Sturdevant Street. According to the 1960 City Directory, they moved to 1125 1/2 West 8th Street, and Kent was listed as a carpenter for Harvey Construction.

“Civil War Buffs have a Ball,” Quad City Times (Davenport, IA), Aug. 18, 1980, page 7.

As the couple began to have their own family, Gerri and Kent developed their own hobbies and interests. They both enjoyed participating in community events, antique collecting, and more. The article, “Civil War Buffs have a Ball,” boasts a picture of Gerri wearing a civil war period dress made of willow green antique satin and apricot sleeves as part of the Civil War Muster and Mercantile Exposition in the Village of East Davenport. Gerri was the chairman of the event which would be limited to 750 people!

The invitation to the ball is a copy of “an 1885 East Davenport Social Club card” or a dance card, that was used by Kent Bowers’ great-aunt, Sophie Schlapkohl who was born and raised on East 11th Street. The article mentions the other festivities planned along with more details about the ball.

In the two Quad City Times articles published on September 17, 2000, Gerri’s interest in family history is showcased by the insightful words of Alma Gaul. It shared that Gerri researched and collected not only her own family history but also her husband’s. They dedicated a room in their home to display their finds.

“Bowers,” Quad City Times (Davenport, IA), Jun. 25, 2006, page 95.

In 2006, Gerri and Kent celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They had three daughters: Stephanie, Melissa, and Stacey. The article lists the hobbies and activities they participated in.

Gerri will live in our memories, but she also has a lasting legacy as a historian with her contributions of Bix Beiderbecke Genealogy and BIX: The Davenport Album, co-written with Rich J. Johnson and Jim Arpy. Both these titles are available for use in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center. If you would like to learn more about Gerri Bowers, Jonathan Turner of wrote an article highlighting her life and all her work with preserving Bix Beiderbecke’s history.

In 2022, we lost other treasured volunteers and colleagues we would like to recognize. One that we will miss dearly is Leonard “Len” Stevens. Len volunteered with the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center for a number of years. He would work 2-3 desk shifts a month. He always checked to see how things were going with you and would make great recommendations on community events to attend. He also loved helping people research their family histories. We were fortunate enough to work with him as a volunteer and as a board member of the Scott County Genealogical Society. Len passed away on February 5 after a long battle with health issues. To read more about his life, please follow this link to his obituary:

Len Stevens at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections service desk.

We also lost Miss Rochelle Murry and Mr. Marvin Lee. Please follow the links below to learn about the lives of these individuals.

We are truly grateful for the people we interact with as part of our work at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center.

(posted by Kathryn)

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Little Special Collections Poem for Gift Ideas

Special Collections is here to help with some last-minute gift ideas!

[Santa Claus Advertisement]. The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA) Dec. 22, 1942, page12.

For the ladies in your life, handy home tools might be a hit.

A. J. Smith & Son Advertisement

But, something more personal might be a better fit.

Teens are tough, but technology is good!

Every teen loves great tech. If they don’t, they sure should.

A guy needs man stuff for work and for play.

And something to enjoy at the end of the day.

For kiddies, new toys will bring them joy.

And two-wheels are welcomed by both girls and boys.

There’s something for everyone, if only you look.

To get last-minute shoppers off of the hook.

The latest and greatest for you they will thank.

Especially if they don’t have to fill up the tank.

So now you are set. The end is in sight…

(posted by Karen)

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

‘Twas the night before Christmas at The Davenport Club

While looking for holiday items in the archives we found this festive poem in our ephemera files. It was written in December 1957 for members of The Davenport Club, a social organization active between 1945-1993.

The poem starts with the familiar “‘Twas the night before Christmas” line from “A Visit from St. Nicholas” published in 1923 by Clement Clark Moore.

'Twas the Night before Christmas,
When all thru the Club,
No lights were burning,
Not one single bulb.

The tinsel and pine boughs,
Were hung with great care,
As the image of members,
Appeared everywhere...

The poem then lists over 400 club members’ last names from A-Z in a rhyming pattern. Some familiar names include Adler, Bawden, Bettendorf, Bechtel, Figge, Foster, Lagomarcino, Landauer, Lujack, Mueller, Palmer, Priester, Richardson, Ruhl, Runge, Sunderbruch, Von Maur, and Waterman.

The Davenport Club was incorporated on January 29, 1945. Warren L. Langwith, a Pontiac-Cadillac-Packard car dealer, was president. Kirk A. Hills of General Electric Co. was vice president, and Kenneth C. Hartman of the Davenport Bank & Trust Co. was secretary-treasurer. Other members of their board of directors included Hamlet C. Hall of Equitable Life Insurance Co., lawyer Edward A. Doerr, George Kirby of the J.C. Penney Co., Thomas J. Frank of Frank Foundries Corp., Charles Gilchrist of the Alden Coal Co., L.J. Dougherty of the Occidental Life Insurance Co., Albert Uchtorff of the Uchtorff Co. (metal stamping, tool and die works), and Wallace P. Peterson of the Peterson Paper Co.

They leased space in the basement of the Chamber of Commerce building at 402-404 Main Street and hired Seth J. Temple to design the club’s headquarters. The club rooms included a private dining area for its 300 members to network and entertain visitors.

In September 1979, The Davenport Club moved to the 11th floor of the newly remodeled Blackhawk Hotel. The new space featured panoramic views of the Quad-City skyline with a large bar and dance floor, the Grill Room, a library, and various meeting rooms. Club membership jumped from 531 to more than 750. Members paid an initiation fee of $750 and annual dues of $525.

With the move, Anthony Kowalczyk was named executive chef in 1980. Chef Tony had been executive chef at The Bakery in Chicago for 12 years before coming to the Quad Cities in 1979 to work at a restaurant called Huffs in Milan, Illinois. He was the first chef in the Quad Cities to be certified by the American Culinary Federation and organized the Chefs de Cuisine Association of the Quad Cities.

After 14 years at the Black Hotel, The Davenport Club disbanded and closed its restaurant in August 1993. There were many reasons why the club failed at that time. There was the loss of the noon luncheon business after Northpark Mall was built and businesses moved from downtown. The riverboats opened in 1991 and many of the club members entertained visitors there instead of at the club. The flood of 1993 made parking even more difficult than it already was and the new municipal parking ramp had not been completed yet. The Club never made a profit from the food it served and depended on the bar sales instead, but people’s drinking habits changed. The kitchen equipment was outdated and not set up for healthier cooking techniques, and the club could not afford to replace it. The air conditioner and windows needed to be replaced but the hotel did not plan to make an investment in updating the physical plant.

In our collection, we have a menu from The Davenport Club dating from 1992. It features a variety of meal options for its members and guests.

The Davenport Club letterhead, 1993

The Davenport Club was a gathering place for the business owners of the city for many years, but with all the changes it could not compete. Other organizations and societies have taken The Davenport Club’s place to help local business owners network. Now we are seeing businesses coming back to the downtown district but too late to help the club. This development has helped revitalize and preserve downtown Davenport. Organizations like the Downtown Davenport Partnership are attempting to provide downtown businesses with opportunities to collaborate and network but without the delicious eating spot.

(posted by Cristina)


  • ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas At The Davenport Club, December 1957
  • The Davenport Club menu, ca. 1992
  • Kamp, Thomas N. Letter to Davenport Club Members with question-and-answer sheet. November 11, 1993
  • “Davenport Club Files Incorporation Papers.” The Daily Times, January 29, 1945
  • “New Club Signs Lease for C.C. Sub-Basement.” Davenport Democrat, February 1, 1945
  • “Named Directors, Committees for Davenport Club.” Davenport Democrat, April 18, 1945
  • “Davenport Club Gets A Lift.” Quad-City Times, September 14, 1979
  • “Lure Great Chef to Quad-Cities.” Quad-City Times, May 6, 1979
  • “The view from the top…” Quad-City Times, August 25, 1981
  • “The créme de la créme.” Quad-City Times, June 4, 1991
  • “Davenport Club ends 48-year run.” Quad-City Times, August 25, 1993
Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

At the PERSI of the ACPL Genealogy Center

The Allen County (Indiana) Public Library’s Genealogy Center is rich in resources for the family historian, not the least of which is the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) maintained by its staff. It is a subject index to articles on local history and genealogy topics published in the vast numbers of newsletters, magazines, journals, and other serial publications held by the Center.

The publications themselves are largely U.S.-based, though countries across the globe (particularly ethnic groups emigrating to English-speaking locations) are represented in the indexed articles. The ACPL Center’s recently-introduced, easy-to-use online search interface makes finding the most useful citations for your research a snap.

You can search by location, article title keyword, and even surname! Click on the “Research Techniques” button to search for “how to” articles on using specific types of records to find the information you need, such as census records, church records, court records, wills, deeds, etc.

You can search to the county level with a U.S. location search. Here is the list of topics (and the number of citations for articles about each) for Scott County, Iowa:

Naturally, the Scott County Iowa Genealogical Society’s Scott County Iowan is the source of many of these articles. Those from other periodical titles in the RSSC Center’s collection, such as the Annals of Iowa, the American/Schleswig-Holstein Heritage Society Newsletter, and perhaps titles in other genealogical periodical collections close to you, are also indexed in PERSI.

PERSI is not a full-text database (meaning you won’t be able to view entire articles reproduced online), but the chance to find that one key piece of information not available on or FamilySearch is well-worth the ACPL Genealogical Center’s small article copy fee!

Happy searching!

(posted by Katie)

Posted in Genealogy, Local History | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Little Chrysanthemum Magic: Vander Veer Park Style

Recently we came across this picture from the November 30, 1929, Daily Times newspaper.

The Daily Times, November 30, 1929. Pg. 2

We can only imagine how much fun it was to have cold enough weather to freeze the lagoon at Vander Veer Park that early in the skating season.

It was so early, in fact, that the Chrysanthemum show was still going on in the greenhouses at Vander Veer on the same day. This November event started in 1899 soon after the greenhouses were completed. A popular winter flower, the Tri-City Florists’ Association had held a Chrysanthemum show for several years until 1898 when they decided to end the tradition for financial reasons.

Due to the flower’s popularity and with the ability to grow them in their own greenhouses, the park board decided to start their own show the next year. One of the exciting features in those early years were the electric lights inside the new greenhouses that allowed for nighttime viewing of the flowers.

Fortunately, we have color slides from the Grover C. von der Heyde Collection to help us capture those long-ago moments in time. These images from 1949 – 1954 capture the beauty of past flower shows in the Vander Veer Park greenhouses along with scenic pictures taken throughout the seasons. To learn more about the history of the greenhouses and to see images from the von der Heyde Collection featuring the Poinsettia shows please click here.

We hope you enjoy these images from Chrysanthemum shows of Vander Veer Park’s past!

DPL Volume 204. Image dpl1992-010694
DPL Volume 204. Image dpl1992-010698.
DPL Volume 202. Image dpl1992-010457.
DPL Volume 200. Image dpl1992-010162.

(posted by Amy D.)

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Thanksgiving! Another serving of Turkey Notes, please!

‘Tis the time of the year to warm our fingers, loosen our tongues and sharpen our minds to craft a delightful turkey note. Turkey notes are an annual tradition in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center. Like many activities observed and dishes made, the turkey note has its stalwart fans and its fierce detractors. Are you curious about the history of this turkey-themed poem? We have a number of blogs about this poem including a few that touch on its story such as in our “Turkey Notes” blog post.

As Thanksgiving approaches, we also got the curiosity bug about these silly poems. In searching our Davenport newspapers, we discovered a few articles about the “turkey note” we would like to share with you all.

In 1937, Harry Downer, the author of History of Davenport and Scott County, Iowa and a number of other titles about Davenport, received an astoundingly long turkey note measuring 3 feet long comprising 76 different verses. The poems touched on topics ranging from autumn landscapes to scenes from the Friendly House playroom. The article shared one of the poems in this epic turkey note opus. It is a fun thought to ponder what the other poems contain.

“Downer Receives ‘Turkey Note’ 3 Feet Long,” The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), Nov. 26, 1937, 9.

This seemingly unrelated article to our topic notes captures an interesting trend in the 1930s to announce a recently engaged couple’s wedding date through the medium of the turkey note. A party was held at the bride’s home located at 1923 College Avenue where the announcement of Miss Gladys Hilbert and Mr. Wilfred Blaser’s engagement and the wedding date was formally made. In attendance were a few of Gladys’ friends who enjoyed, “an evening of games. There were covers for eight laid at the dinner table where the green and gold bridal colors were in decoration, with individual miniature chocolate turkeys as favors, containing tiny ‘turkey notes’ revealing the wedding date.” What a unique way to share special news with friends and family!

The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), Nov. 24, 1935, 11.

In this 1940 Daily Times article, the author shares some traditions around turkeys that girls and boys partook in over the years such as wrapping their turkey notes in colored crepe paper with fringes and ribbons for extra adornments. Davenporters have celebrated this tradition for years, but have other cities or states ever scribbled turkey notes? A small survey of locals shows that the turkey note can only be found in Davenport, Iowa, not Wisconsin, Illinois, or South Dakota.

“Turkey Notes,” The Daily Times (Davenport, IA,), Nov. 21, 1940, 3.

Local columnist, Bob Feeny, wrote in his column, Homemade Hooch, about some of the specifics relating to turkey notes. He shares some fine examples in the newspaper clipping below.

Turkey Notes of 2022

Offered below is a selection of staff-created turkey notes for your reading pleasure. We hope you enjoy them and feel inspired to create your own. Please share your turkey notes with us in the comments!

Turkey high,
Turkey low,
Turkey tastes great!,
Don’t you know.

Did you know that turkeys 
are saurischian dinosaurs?

Turkey flip,
Turkey flap,
Turkey says,
You're not a flop! 

Turkey corn,
Turkey cob,
Turkey says,
Have a CORNtastic day! 

Turkey old, Turkey new,
Turkey borrow, Turkey blue,
Turkey says, 
I do!

Turkey swims,
Turkey floats
It’s hard to write
These turkey notes.

Turkey tik,
Turkey tok,
Eatin' turkey 
'round the clock.

Turkey trots,
Turkey twirls,
Watch out for the turkey's tail.

Turkey Hall,
Turkey Oates,
Katie hates writing 
Turkey notes.

Turkey knock,
Turkey who,
Turkey says, 
Owl see you soon! 

Turkey sing,
Turkey sung,
Turkey says,
Turn up the turkey song!

Stuff your turkey
Put him in the oven.
But bake too long and your
Turkey’s overdone.

Turkey Here,
Turkey There,
Turkey Everywhere,
Except in my stomach.

Turkey dancers,
Turkey troupe,
Slipped and fell on turkey poop.

Turkey bakes
Turkey toasts
Turkey loves stories
About local ghosts!

Turkey gobble, 
Turkey trot,
I’m eating turkey while it’s hot.


The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), Nov. 24, 1935, 11.

“Downer Receives ‘Turkey Note’ 3 Feet Long.” The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), Nov. 26, 1937, 9.

Feeny, Bob. “Homemade Hooch.” The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), Nov. 23, 1939, 25.

“Turkey Notes.” The Daily Times (Davenport, IA,), Nov. 21, 1940, 3.

(posted by Kathryn)

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment