Thanksgiving in Davenport, 1857

On November 26, 1857, the Right Reverend Henry Washington Lee, Bishop of the [Protestant Episcopal] Diocese of Iowa, delivered a Thanksgiving [1] sermon [2] at the recently-constructed St. Luke’s Church on 7th and Brady Streets in Davenport.

In “The True Elements of Civil Prosperty,” Lee bemoans the fact that “the tone of piety and morals in our city is far too low” and that “…people are too sordid, too much given up to mere delving for money, too little inclined to literary pursuits, too much engrossed by business, too regardless of the world to come.”

Speaking against a background of financial hardship brought upon by the Panic of 1857, he suggests that Davenporters’ economic difficulties are the result of their failure to behave according to Christian principles: “…[N]o city can be truly prosperous without maintaining a high standard of piety among the various classes and orders of its inhabitants.”

By way of a solution, Lee proposes that “[o]ur social entertainments should be more generally characterized by moderation and intellectual enjoyments rather than made occasions of ostentatious gaiety and excessive indulgence.” More importantly, he says, ministers must “elevate the tone of piety” and serve as examples to members of their congregations and Christians of every denomination should endeavor to spread the Word of the Gospel in the community. He especially hopes that the present generation will “create a moral atmosphere” in which the next may thrive, and that the the gift of religion will be passed onto Davenport’s children by their elders.

We wonder if any of the “goodly number of young fellows” who “enjoyed a pleasant hop [dance] at Bailey’s Hall on the evening of Thanksgiving Day” attended Bishop Lee’s sermon that morning? [3]

Happy Thanksgiving from the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center of the Davenport Public Library!

Please Note: All locations of the Davenport Public Library will be closed on Thursday, November 23rd and Friday, November 24th, 2023. Special Collections reopens at Main on Monday, November 26th.

(posted by Katie)


[1] Thanksgiving was first celebrated in Iowa (the Territory of) in 1844, long before President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation establishing a national holiday. See “The First Iowa Thanksgiving” by William J. Peterson in the November 1944 (Volume 25, Number 11) issue of the State Historical Society of Iowa’s publication The Palimpsest.

[2] Lee, Henry W. The True Elements of Civil Prosperity: a Sermon Delivered in St. Luke’s Church Davenport, Iowa, on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1857. Davenport, Iowa: Publishing House of Luse, Lane & Co., 1857. Call Number: SC CLOSED STACKS 283.777 LEE

[3] The Daily Iowa State Democrat (Davenport, Iowa), November 28, 1857, page 1.

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Turkey Notes: Ode to Bill Wundram

It’s Turkey Note time again. Our annual tribute to this uniquely Quad Cities tradition. These three- or four-line poems traditionally wrapped in colorful paper, rolled, and tied on each end with fringed edges were created for Thanksgiving. They brought laughs, kindness, and more than a few good spirited pokes at our state rivalry between the University of Iowa and Iowa State. Rumor has it a marriage proposal or two occurred with the help of Turkey Notes.

This year we would like to dedicate our Turkey Note blog to newspaper journalist and author Bill Wundram who passed away on February 14, 2023. Bill was a huge proponent of the Turkey Note tradition. Bill first explored Turkey Notes in his column in the Quad-City Times on November 27, 1991. His readers responded by mailing in their own Turkey Notes and it became a regular feature around Thanksgiving to share a few Turkey Notes in his column until his retirement in 2018 after 74 years at the Quad-City Times and its predecessors.

The Quad-City Times, November 27, 1991. Pg. A2

If you are new to the Turkey Note tradition, we encourage you to go to our original blog (written way back in 2008!) to learn about Turkey Notes, their history, and how to make them. To find other blogs written on this topic over the years, type Turkey Notes in our search bar at the top right of our blog homepage. We have had fun over the past fifteen years writing our own Turkey Notes.

The Daily Times, November 26, 1937. Pg. 2

We don’t think we will ever solve the mystery of who started this tradition, but a newspaper article we found in the Daily Times from November 22, 1940 indicates a time period the notes may originate from. Mrs. Harry Downer, who before marriage was Alice Rinaldo (born 1875), remembered living in Davenport until about 1890 without ever hearing of Turkey Notes. She stated they were being created for Thanksgiving upon her return to Davenport in about 1900. We found primary resources that Alice moved with her family about 1890 to Geneseo, Illinois, and then to Sioux City, Iowa. She returned to the area in about 1898 to work as a retoucher for the Jarvis-White Art Company. Alice married Harry Downer in 1900 and the two worked for many years at the Settlement House in Davenport.

The Daily Times, November 22, 1940. Pg. 3

Now, let us commence with this year’s Turkey Notes!

And one last note for Mr. Wundram.

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In Honor of Our Quad-City Veterans

On this Veterans Day 2023, we invite you to explore our collection of interviews with local men and women who served in the United States military during World War II and the Korean War.

With support from the Riverboat Development Authority and the City of Davenport, the Davenport Public Library and the Davenport Historical Commission embarked upon the “World War II/Korean War Oral History Project” in early 2001. By November of the following year, seventy-four interviews had been conducted by the Special Collections Department’s Karen O’Connor (the project coordinator) and volunteers Susan Carlson, Gaynell Foster-Pray, Larry Maxwell, and Babs Treiber.

The interviews were recorded on audio cassette tapes using a standard tape recorder and microphone. Volunteers then typed transcriptions of the recordings to render the information more accessible. Further progress in this regard was made in 2009, and again earlier this year, when recordings were digitized.

About half of the memories shared are of service in WWII, including those with Melvin Muhs, Bernard Bailey, Vern Petersen, Willis Bishop, Bobby Hess, Dale Iverson Elliott, Manuel Soodhalter, Raldo Fonteyne, Harold Labonte, Robert Rubley, Michael Cervantes, Iris Hetzler, Glen Albert Davis, Dale Claus Heuer, Don Southwood, Lorena Seline, Ed Meyer, Donald Hebbel, R.W. “Dick” Tucker, Pershing Johnson, Francis X. “Frank” Walter, Charles C. Milnes, Alvin V. Holst, Merle J. Farley, William Hansen, Jennings L. Massery, Jeanne Sullivan Stopulos, Wayne Newport, Robert G. Ott, Florence Bates, and Jean E. (Lay) Sauls. There are also several interviews that give insight into life on the Home Front here in the Quad-Cities.

In 2005, WVIK radio produced a program titled “The Pacific in World War II” that featured selections from the project’s interviews with Dick Tucker, Willis Bishop, and Wayne Newport.

For the Korean War, there are interviews with Arnold Marolf, Ken Criger, Laurie Miller, Dwight E. Mohlenbruck, Kenneth Plumb, Bob Fitts, William Thomas Haussmann, Virgil McCollum, Fred Snyder, Don Smart, Don Simpson, and Richard Weeks. Joseph Gomez, Robert H. Lay, and members of the “Gung-ho Gang” described their service in both conflicts on tape.

Interviewees also contributed copies of photographs, military documents, letters, memoirs, manuscripts, interview notes, newspaper and magazine clippings, books, etc. as a way to futher document their experiences. These “collateral materials” are also available to view in Special Collections.

We are grateful to the veterans of these two military conflicts who entrusted the Davenport Public Library to preserve their memories. Hear their stories!

(posted by Katie)

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Unsolved: The death of Martha Kistenmacher

The evenings had just begun to get darker sooner due to the end of Daylight Saving Time on October 29, 1978. The darkness and colder weather of autumn had begun to take over, leaving the lighter evenings of summer just a memory for the next several months in Davenport, Iowa.

It was early evening on November 2nd when 74-year-old Martha Kistenmacher stepped out the front door of the older Victorian home where she rented apartment #3 at 1308 Main Street.

Hidden by the growing darkness, a young man rushed towards Martha to grab her purse. Martha, whose back was turned away, never saw the man face-to-face. She caught a quick glimpse as she fell to the ground of a dark jacket and a nylon over his face. The young man, most likely in his late teens, quickly ran towards Harrison Street. Martha could only call for help as she lay on the ground.

Neighbors quickly gathered and tried to assist Martha into the house. She was injured and an ambulance was called. In the Mercy Hospital (now Genesis East) emergency room, Martha was found to be badly bruised from her shoulders to her hips and had a broken shoulder. She was able to talk to the police to describe what she could see of her assailant along with a description of her brown purse that contained $25 in cash along with miscellaneous items.  

A shop owner soon recovered the missing purse in a dumpster at 1313 Harrison Street, near Martha Kistenmacher’s home address. The only thing missing from inside it was the cash. The November 4, 1978 morning edition of The Quad-City Times described the purse snatching in its police beat section.

The Quad-City Times, November 4, 1978. Pg. 3

This wasn’t just another purse snatching for the residents of Main Street, but a reminder of the tragic death of Clara Schiele who lived just a block away from Martha at 1416 Main Street. Clara was fatally injured during a purse snatching in front of her house on August 3, 1978. A witness in that case could only provide a general description of a young man, most likely in his late teens, with a stocking over his face and a dark jacket who stole Clara’s purse. Clara’s purse contained only $20.

Though Martha was about 16 years younger than Clara Schiele had been at her death, both women had much in common throughout their lives.

Martha Kistenmacher was one of 11 children born to Louis and Louise (Rochau) Kistenmacher. The family farmed in Blue Grass, Scott County, Iowa with Martha and her siblings attending the No. 5 schoolhouse in Blue Grass. We do know that Martha was a member of the Sunshine Workers of Blue Grass, a sewing group.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, August 13, 1920. Pg. 4

Martha’s mother, Louise, passed away in 1910. Her father, Louis, in 1920. Shortly after his death, Martha moved from Blue Grass to Davenport and worked briefly as a maid for the Leonidas Ramsey family at 834 Marquette Street. By 1923, Martha was listed as a store clerk. Martha worked in several clothing stores until her retirement after 25 years from Newman’s Women’s Clothing store at 121 W. 2nd Street in Davenport. She started at Newman’s on February 1, 1941, and retired in early February 1966.

The Times-Democrat, February 6, 1966. Pg. 29

Like Clara Schiele, Martha had never married and remained close to her family during her lifetime. Both women upon retirement lived on Main Street and kept active with family, friends, and social organizations. The residential neighborhood, near Palmer Chiropractic College and Davenport Central High School, was within walking distance of many smaller businesses. Buses ran frequently in the neighborhood, which allowed residents the chance to shop in busier areas as needed.

In a neighborhood where residents still sat on porches and visited over fences, it was shocking that not one but two elderly residents would be victims of purse snatchings in front of their own front doors.

The Quad-City Times, November 14, 1978. Pg. 1

After a week at Mercy Hospital, Martha was transferred to recover at Americana Healthcare Center. It was there, on November 16, 1978, that Martha Kistenmacher died unexpectedly from a blood clot in her lung that the medical examiner said was a result of her injuries.

Martha was buried on November 20, 1978, in Davenport Memorial Park alongside her parents and several of her siblings.

The Daily Times, June 4, 1962.

After Martha’s death, many residents of Davenport speculated if Clara and Martha’s purse snatchings were related or if two separate horrible incidents had happened on that quiet tree-lined street.

No one has been arrested for the purse snatchings and deaths of Clara Schiele and Martha Kistenmacher.

(posted by Amy D.)


  • Find A
  • The Daily Times, December 26, 1913. Pg. 5
  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader, August 13, 1920. Pg. 4
  • The Daily Times, April 27, 1937. Pg. 18
  • The Daily Times, December 13, 1937. Pg. 6
  • The Daily Times, June 4, 1962. Pg. 2
  • The Times-Democrat, February 6, 1966. Pg. 29
  • The Quad-City Times, November 4, 1978. Pg. 3
  • The Quad-City Times, November 14, 1978. Pg. 1, 4
  • The Quad-City Times, November 17, 1978. Pg. 6
  • The Quad-City Times, November 18, 1978. Pg. 3
  • The Quad-City Times, November 18, 1978. Pg. 15
  • The Quad-City Times, January 31, 1979. Pg. 3
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2023 QC Archives Fair at the Hauberg Estate

Join us in celebrating the fifth annual Quad Cities Archives Fair on Saturday, October 28th from 1-4 PM! This year’s Archives Fair will be held at the Hauberg Estate located at 1300 24th Street, Rock Island, 61201.

Quad Cities Archives Fair advocates and supports the access, preservation, and understanding of library, archives, and museum collections and materials. The QC Archives Fair promotes exploration the historical and cultural institutions of the Quad Cities region that uphold this mission. At this event, audiences can visit tables to learn about the institutions’ unique collections and services and listen to talks on historical topics to discover hidden gems of the Quad Cities.

Each year we have roughly 15-25 historical and cultural institutions attending the event. We encourage institutions and organizations with a collection of any kind to attend. The appeal and benefit for exhibitors (participating institutions) is the opportunity to educate the public about the resources and services they offer. It allows them to reach new audiences that are already interested in collections. Here is a short list of the participating organizations this year are:

Augustana College Fryxell Geology Museum
Black Hawk State Historic Site
Butterworth Center & Deere-Wiman House
German American Heritage Center
Iowa 80 Trucking Museum
Palmer College of Chiropractic Special Collections and Archives
Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center, Davenport Public Library
Rock Island Public Library
St. Ambrose University Archives
& many more!

In addition to getting to explore all these cultural and historical institutions and organizations is attending a presentation relevant to local history and culture. This year we are pleased to have Minda Powers-Douglas speaking about “Translating Tombstones”. She will be presenting in the Tulip Room at 1:30 and 3:30 PM. She will be covering what the different symbols on gravestones mean during this lively program on cemeteries. Attend these presentations to enter in a free raffle for great prizes and enjoy free refreshments.

The location for this year’s Quad Cities Archives Fair is also a hidden historical and architectural gem of the Quad Cities. The Hauberg Estate was designed by Chicago architect Robert C. Spencer, a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright. Spencer was known for blending the “modern” Prairie style with historical elements. It was constructed in two years from 1909-1911. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Using Susanne (Denkmann) Hauberg’s love of flowers as his inspiration, he included tulips throughout the home, inside and out – in the stained glass windows, the woodwork, the plastered ceilings, the fireplaces, tiles and planters. To read more about this beautifully designed home and the family who lived there, please peruse the Hauberg’s website:

The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center holds materials documenting the history of the Hauberg Estate for those interested in local historic homes and sites.

On April 28, 1957, the Hauberg Estate formally became known as the Hauberg Civic Center. A location known for its inviting spaces and welcoming atmosphere.

Ephemera- Historic Houses and Sites, Hauberg Civic Center (Rock Island, Illinois) Dedication Day April 28, 1957 Leaflet

We even have stories about the estate’s haunted history in local publications such as Eerie Quad Cities by Michael McCarty and John Brassard Jr.

We invite you come learn about all the cultural and historical organizations that will be at the Archives Fair as well as explore the buildings and grounds of this lovely home. Here is a small sampling of our past events, which we have been doing this since 2018!

To discover more about this event follow this link:

(posted by Kathryn)

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The Mysterious Poisoning of the Foulk Children

It was a mystery that shocked the state of Iowa in October 1905. Who would leave poisoned candy in the room of an elderly widowed Civil War veteran with a note saying it was for his young children? Children who he had entrusted into the care of the Iowa Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home in Davenport after the death of their mother.

The children’s father, Jonathan Foulk, was born in Mercer County, Pennsylvania in 1838. His family moved to Morris, Grundy County, Illinois between the 1850 and 1860 United States Census. In 1860, 20-year-old Jonathan was listed as a laborer who lived with his father John, mother Jane, and seven siblings.

In 1861, Jonathan and his older brother William joined the military at the beginning of the Civil War. Jonathan enlisted on June 15, 1861, but was discharged on September 16, 1861 after an injury to his left ankle. Jonathan enlisted again with his younger brother Warren in December 1863. All three brothers served together in the Illinois 36th Infantry Co. G. They were separated when Warren was taken prisoner and held at Andersonville until the war ended in 1865. All three brothers survived the war and returned home.

Jonathan married Abigail Jane Mean on November 21, 1863. No information could be found about this marriage beyond the marriage certificate. Abigail died in 1868 in either Grundy County, Illinois or Linn County, Iowa. No grave could be located. It is not known if children were born to this marriage.

In 1869, Jonathan married Melissa Ann Smith Wright who was widowed with two young daughters, Emma and Georgeanna. Jonathan was a laborer and farmer during these years near Marion, Linn County, Iowa. Melissa died on December 10, 1887 from consumption. Georgeanna passed in 1890 from a heart ailment. Emma married in 1879 and started a family of her own.

On February 15, 1888, Jonathan married for a third time to Ella Viola Hess. Jonathan was 27 years older than his new wife who was born in 1865. Their son Jonathan B. was born in late 1888, an unnamed infant in 1890 died soon after birth, Andrew in 1891, Mamie in 1893, and George in 1898.

Jonathan suffered the loss of his son Jonathan B. from pneumonia and wife Ella from consumption in 1900. Now, at the age of 62 he was faced with raising a 9-year-old, 7-year-old, and a 2-year-old by himself.

It is not known when Jonathan admitted his children to the Iowa Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home to be cared for. We did find a newspaper account that his health began to suffer about 1901 and he spent time at a Home for Volunteer Disabled Soldiers in Danville, Illinois starting in 1902. When he felt well, he would discharge himself and return to Marion, Iowa. He survived on a disability pension from the government for his war service of about $10 per month. The children most likely were sent to the Orphans’ Home between 1900 and 1902.

By all accounts, Jonathan Foulk loved his children. He would visit them every time he traveled to or from Danville to Marion. He did not relinquish custody, but instead asked for the children to be cared for due to his circumstances.

Jonathan also sent care packages and letters to Andrew, Mamie, and George in the Home. One such package was prepared and mailed in late September 1905. It arrived at the Home on Sunday, October 1st. As was the custom, the package was opened and everything was examined by staff before a football, picture book, and doll were given to the two younger children Mamie and George. About a dozen chocolate candies were found in the package as well.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, October 1, 1905. Pg. 16

The candy was chocolate on the outside with a crème filling on the inside. Those were kept by staff until after dinner when they were given as treats to the younger two children. Smaller portions were given to their friends as well.

George became ill soon after eating the candy. Newspapers reported he went into convulsions. Dr. J. C. Murphy was summoned and he felt the symptoms were similar to strychnine poisoning. He quickly began to pump the boy’s stomach. Reports went out that little George was deathly ill. Staff found Mamie to be in a similar condition, although not as ill as George. Their little friends at the orphanage also experienced symptoms as well. The children all said the chocolate candy had a bitter taste. Mamie and George’s older brother, Andrew, had not yet been offered the candy and was not taken ill.

The Daily Times, October 2, Pg. 6

Mamie and the other children quickly recovered from the effects of the candy. George took longer, but eventually regained his health. The Davenport Police Department was brought in to try to figure out if the candy was poisoned and by whom.

After testing, strychnine was found in the crème and it was determined the poison most likely was added into the chocolates before they were mailed. The orphanage staff was in disbelief at the thought Jonathan Foulk might have poisoned his children.

The Marion Police Department quickly took over investigating in their town. They spoke with Jonathan who seemed shocked that the candy was poisoned. He said he had gone out to buy the football, doll, and picture book for the younger children. It appeared to be no secret that Mr. Foulk mailed packages to his children when he could afford to do so. For this package, he had asked a neighbor to make a doll dress to be sent along with the new doll he was going to purchase.

The Daily Times, October 6, 1905. Pg. 2

Jonathan stated he had gone to work and returned to the room he rented with the intention of preparing and mailing the package. When he entered his room there was a little paper sack filled with chocolate candies. On the outside of the paper bag was written “For the children, from a friend”. He looked inside and saw the chocolates. He thought it was a simple kindness from a neighbor. Mr. Foulk added the chocolates to the package and mailed it.

Perhaps the most shocking thing was that Jonathan stated this was the third attempt to poison his children. A few years before, the children had been sent popcorn. The popcorn was deemed suspicious by the Orphans’ Home staff and thrown away. Another package was received after that in which there were popcorn balls. The children were given the treat, but immediately said the popcorn balls tasted bitter and they were thrown out. Jonathan claimed not to be the sender of those packages. He stated he had an idea who it was, but would not say the name or names. The newspapers reported that Jonathan and the Hess family, the family of his third deceased wife, were not on good terms.

On October 20, 1905, Jonathan Foulk traveled from Marion to Davenport for a visit with his children and to meet with officials to discuss the case. On October 30, 1905, the Daily Times newspaper printed an article stating another box of candy had been left for Jonathan at his room in Marion indicating, once again, it was for the children. A chemist tested the candy and determined the pieces had strychnine in them.

The Daily Times, October 30, 1905. Pg. 4

After the occurrence at the end of October, the story faded from the newspapers until 1906. It was in early March that Mr. Foulk found a paper bag containing nine chocolate crème candies on his doorstep early one morning. All contained strychnine. In this case, Mrs. Burris from whom Jonathan rented basement rooms, saw an unknown man walking away from her yard shortly after 10:00 p.m. It was too dark to identify the person.

Once again, the Foulk family fell from newspaper headlines. No more candy is known to have been sent to Mr. Foulk or the children.

Upon aging out of the Orphans’ Home, Andrew Foulk returned to Marion to live with his father. He died at the age of 20 from tuberculosis. His younger brother George would die at the age of 20 as well. He died on May 26, 1918 in France becoming the first young man of Marion to be killed in World War I.

The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, November 2, 1918. Pg. 15

Mamie became Jonathan Foulk’s only surviving child. She married William J. Martinez in Los Angeles, California on June 13, 1917. Jonathan remained close to Mamie and moved to Los Angeles to live with Mamie and her husband around 1918.

We did find something unusual related to Mr. Foulk later in his life. We noticed in the 1910 United States Census, Jonathan’s birth year was 1827 instead of 1838 as we had found on all previous documents.  In 1910, his age is listed as 82 indicating a birth year of 1827 or 1828. By the U. S. Census of 1920, Jonathan claimed to be 102 and born in 1814. We were able to find census records in 1850 and 1860 for his father and mother showing their birth years listed as 1806 and 1811 and Jonathan as 1838. Mr. Foulk’s 1814 birth year appears to be more than a slight exaggeration on his part.

By 1925, Los Angeles and nearby newspapers celebrated the 108-year-old Jonathan Foulk. He became a local newspaper favorite with his witty advice on long-life and his involvement with the local GAR. With official documents being scarce, no one realized he was actually only 88-years-old. In September of 1925 he was named Los Angeles’ oldest living citizen and oldest living member of the local GAR.

Los Angeles Evening Express, September 4, 1925. Pg. 9

Mr. Foulk eventually settled in the Soldiers’ Home in Danville, Illinois where he passed away on March 15, 1929 aged 90 or 110 years old. He is buried in Oak Shade Cemetery in Marion, Linn County, Iowa with his second and third wives, stepdaughter Georgeanna, and four of his five children. Daughter Mamie is buried in Los Angeles.

The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, March 15, 1929. Pg. 30

No one was ever caught for leaving the poisoned candy that Mr. Foulk mailed in a package to his children on late September 1905. If it is true that poisoned popcorn and popcorn balls were mailed previously to the orphanage and then more poisoned candy was left for Jonathan later; why would someone want to fatally harm the Foulk family?

Was the perpetrator angry with Mr. Foulk for unknown reasons and wanted to punish him by hurting his children? Was it the Hess family who had opposed the marriage of the young Ella Viola Hess to the much older Jonathan and now grieved her death?  

Or was the perpetrator closer to home? Could Jonathan Foulk have poisoned his own children for unknown reasons?

It appears this is a mystery that will never be solved.

As for Jonathan Foulk’s advice on living a long life. His usual advice was work hard, don’t drink, don’t smoke, eat plenty of cornbread, and avoid sweets.

(posted by Amy D.)


  • The Daily Times, May 2, 1900. Pg. 1
  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader, October 1, 1905. Pg. 16
  • The Daily Times, October 2, 1905. Pg. 6
  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader, October 2, 1905. Pg. 10
  • The Daily Times, October 3, 1905. Pg. 6
  • The Daily Times, October 6, 1905. Pg. 2
  • The Daily Times, October 6, 1905. Pg. 7
  • The Daily Times, October 20, 1905. Pg. 6
  • The Daily Times, October 30, 1905. Pg. 4
  • The Daily Times, March 7, 1906. Pg. 6
  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader, April 11, 1906. Pg. 12
  • The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), October 29, 1918. Pg. 11
  • Los Angeles Record (Los Angeles, California), September 4, 1925. Pg. 11
  • The Chico Enterprise (Chico, California), September 17, 1925. Pg. 4
  • The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), March 15, 1929. Pg. 30
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The Family of Jasinto Almeida in El Registro Civil

One of the earliest Mexican-born residents of Davenport, according to a search of the U.S. and Iowa state population censuses, was a man named Jasinto (Jacinto) Almeida.

Jasinto’s card from the 1915 state census (accessed via AncestryLibrary) shows that the 27-year-old had $420 in earnings from working the past year as a laborer, and that during all of 1914 he had always been employed. He had been living in the United States for 5 years, 3 of them in Iowa, and his address was 517 Esplanade Avenue. According to their 1915 census cards, 23-year-old María, his wife, and one-year-old Lucía, his Iowa-born daughter, lived with him.

We have some other details about Jasinto and his family in other U.S. sources, but it is only his June 5, 1917 draft registration card that connects him to a specific place in Mexico: He was born in Villanueva.

As Villanueva is in the Mexican state of Zacatecas, we can search sources in this location for more information on Jasinto Almeida and his family.

The source of choice is El Registro Civil, or the Civil Registry. It is a government record of births, marriages, and deaths (vital records) in each of the cities and towns within a Mexican state from the year 1859, well-known for its usefulness in Mexican and Mexican-American genealogical research.

The civil registration records may be accessed via the AncestryLibrary and FamilySearch Affiliate databases at all three Davenport Public Library locations. If you cannot read Spanish (or handwriting), Special Collections has two staff members who can help.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month 2023, we are examining these records to find further details to add to the Almeida family’s story.

The Villanueva matrimonios (marriages) in the Zacatecas, Mexico civil registration records include the marriage of Jasinto Almeida and María Reveles, #95, in June 1907.

The record gives the the names and ages of both parties’ parents: Jacinto was the son of Julián Almeida, 52, and Secundia Lozano, 51; María was the daughter of Tomás Reveles, 48, and María Leonides (?) Soriano, 47. The names of witnesses were also recorded; these may have been friends, neighbors, or other associates (a FAN club) who can be investigated for further clues about the Almeida family and their community.

A daughter, María Márcos Almeida Reveles, was born to Jasinto and María on October 8, 1910. Ancestry uses the green baby buggy icon to show the location of the date of birth in the civil registration record:

The record also includes the names of her grandparents. Sadly, it was María Márcos’ paternal grandfather, Julián Almeida, who registered her death with a Villanueva official eleven months later, perhaps because Jasinto was working in the U.S. at the time. María Márcos died of croup on the 5th of September, 1911. The green gravestone icon marks the date her death was recorded.

The croup also took Jasinto and María’s first child, 2-year-old Ramona (b. 1908), in 1910 — just days before her sister María Márcos was born.

Although they lost these two daughters in the early years of their marriage, Jasinto and María were blessed with more children during their time in Davenport. The 1920 U.S. Census tells us that Frank, age 4 and Lupe, age 2, had joined older sister Lucía, age 6.

The civil registration records also confirm that the Almeida family returned to Zacatecas, Mexico, probably about 1923-1924: the September 1948 marriage of 25-year-old Juana María Almeida Reveles (daughter of Jasinto and María) to Jesus Serrano Gonzales in the city of Zacatecas (state of Zacatecas) shows that the bride was born in Davenport, Iowa, in 1923:

Because we do not find the Almeidas in the 1925 Iowa State Census, and Jasinto no longer appears in the Davenport city directories after 1924, we might guess that they left Davenport shortly after Juana María was born. The only record of another child born to Jasinto and María is the death of 8-month-old J. Rafael Manuel Almeida Reveles in Villanueva in December 1933, indicating that the family was back in Zacatecas by at least that date.

The 1930 Mexico National Census confirms it was a few years earlier: Lucía, Francisco (Frank), Lupe and Juana María were living then with their parents in Villanueva. The civil registration records also tell us that Francisco was married in the state of Zacatecas, and that his parents and sister Lupe died there. A more thorough search of these records might reveal even more information to add to the Almeida family tree.

Do you have ancestors with ties to Mexico? Let us help you search the Registro Civil!

(posted by Katie)

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Opening the Box: Davenport Gyro Club Records

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!

(posted by Kathryn)

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All Hail the High School Mascots!

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.

The Daily Times, October 15, 1964. Pg. 10.

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.

The Daily Times, November 16, 1960. Pg. 25
The Sunday Times-Democrat, December 1, 1966. Pg. 30.

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.

The Sunday Times-Democrat, November 27, 1960. Pg. 42.
The Times-Democrat, October 5, 1963. Pg. 5.

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.

The Sunday Times-Democrat, December 6, 1970. Pg. 54.

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.

The Times-Democrat, October 14, 1968. Pg. 14.

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.

The Quad-city Times, September 6, 1985. Pg. 1

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!

(posted by Amy D.)

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Farm Labor in Pleasant Valley, 1940s-1960s

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.

At the age of 16, David Lopez worked with this onion sorter on the Wayne Kerr farm. The machine is now on display at the Dan Nagel Walnut Grove Pioneer Village in Long Grove (#2023-25.05).
Leonard Lopez picked tomatoes and other produce for Frank B. Clemons, proprietor of this open-air market on State Street in Bettendorf, ca. 1958 (#2023-25.09).
The Lopez family with a family of migrant workers staying on the Ralph Watkins farm, 1961 (#2023-25.01).

(posted by Katie)

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