Food Fantasies

Do you associate particular foods with specific events or places? I was watching the Wimbledon tennis tournament and immediately wanted strawberries and cream. Viewing the John Deere Classic golf tournament on TV made me recall the delicious pork chop sandwiches I used to enjoy many years ago when I attended. A Facebook group I belong to from my hometown often brings up longings for the wonderful chocolate rolls we all adored from our little town bakery, lamenting where the recipe might be found.

Davenport and the Quad City area can boast foodie favorites, too. Before Riefe’s restaurant closed a few years ago, we loved to order their fried chicken and evidently they were also famous for their Key Lime Pie. I found the recipe in one of the cookbooks in our collection, Davenport/Central Centennial Cookbook published in 2004.

Who remembers Bishop Buffets? My father loved to go there. My favorite was this dessert!

Although undated, there are several recipes “submitted by Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of President John Kennedy” leading  one to narrow a publishing date of 1961-1963 for The Green Tree Cook Book.

Another restaurant going strong in the 1960s was the Plantation, later known as Velie’s, across the river in Moline. Evidently their salad dressing was to-die for. There have been a lot of copycat recipes, but this one seems pretty authentic, and Mrs. Graham signed her name to it! I found it in The Best of the Open Line Bulletin – August 1963.


1-pint mayonnaise
1 bottle creamy French dressing
1 can grated Romano cheese
2 chopped garlics
½ tube anchovy paste

Mix in blender and store in refrigerator. (This is the recipe for the dressing used in the Plantation Restaurant in Moline Illinois.) Use dressing on mixed lettuce, radishes and tomatoes. Just before serving, break in melba toast and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. (Mrs. Ivan Graham, Davenport, Ia.)

In a 2003 fundraising effort to build a branch library on the west side of Davenport (Fairmount Library) the Davenport Public Library Staff pulled together some history and recipes for this cookbook, including favorites from some local restaurants. This popular recipe was also shared in a 2015 Bill Wundram Quad City Times newspaper column where credit was given to Helen Stoefen, who apparently worked at Petersen’s Tea Room and made the spread for years. Evidently the spread was served on “toast points”. The tasty spot was located in the basement of the building we now know as the Redstone.

According to a handwritten history in our collection (#2010-11 History of a Davenport Neighborhood by Ruth Peters) Walcher’s Bakery was located on the southwest corner of 8th and Marquette. In another Quad City Times Wundram piece, this time from 2014, he was describing things he missed.

“THE LITTLE BAKERIES that were here and there on corners of our towns. Downtown Davenport had luscious places like the Bon Ton and Federal Bake Shop. Out in the neighborhoods, there were places like Walcher’s Bakery, which made the best cream horns in all the universe. Bakeries like Walcher’s were so friendly that they would bake a ham for your Easter dinner in their big ovens and not charge you a dime.”

We didn’t locate a cream horn recipe (darn!) but did include one for Walcher’s German Black Bread in our little cookbook.

Shannon’s Restaurant was before my time in Davenport, operating from 1916-1979 at 116 West Third Street however many on our staff raved about it. We included six recipes from Shannon’s in our Novel Cuisine cookbook, but I stumbled upon another that was published in a Dispatch-Argus “Curious Cook” column by Liz Meegan in 2008. 

Shannon’s Pea Salad

2 cans (16 ounces each) peas, drained
2 to 3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup sweet relish
1/2 to 3/4 cup cubed Cheddar cheese
Miracle Whip, 1/2 cup or more if needed for taste

Just mix all together (the first five ingredients), and add the Miracle Whip.

I can vouch for the last recipe from our cookbook as I made it right away in 2003! I honestly can’t recall if I stored it in a glass jar with a rubber ring under the lid, though.

Do any of the above seem familiar? What old favorites do you find yourself hungering for? Maybe the recipe is awaiting you right here in the cookbook collection at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center. Now excuse me please. I’m off to try Shannon’s Pea Salad recipe for supper!

(Submitted by Karen)


SC 641.5 DAV Davenport/Central Centennial Cookbook (2004)

SC 641.5 GRE   The Green Tree Cook Book by Le Claire Civic Club Auxiliary   Le Claire, Iowa (1960s)

SC 641.5 NOV   Novel Cuisine  by Davenport Public Library (2003)

The Best of the Open Line Bulletin – August 1963. Accessed July 15, 2021 


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Pie Eating – Davenport Playground Style

Almost 60 years ago, 40 youngsters with empty stomachs prepared for a contest of feasting upon desserts of apple, cherry, boysenberry, or pineapple. We found this playful article while we were doing research and knew we had to write about it. As a plus, we were delighted to connect this article to a collection we have of The Daily Times negatives. The Davenport, Iowa Daily Times Newspaper Morgue Collection holds thousands of images taken by the staff of The Daily Times in the early 1960s of a variety of events and places they reported on. During this time period Davenport’s two major newspapers, The Daily Times and The Democrat and Leader, merged to form the Times-Democrat. Some issues of the newspapers published had headers stating The Daily Times or the Times-Democrat.

In the article, three young Davenporters, Decker Ploehn, Pat Duffy, and Tom Genz are featured testing out their pie-eating skills at Garfield Playground. They, unfortunately, did not win the prize: a ribbon and a pie. It appears that they had fun and left satisfied. The fastest eater was Phil Kent who “downed the whole pie in exactly 53 seconds.” He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Kent of 3103 Middle Road.

“Pie Eating – Davenport Playground Style.” The Daily Times. August 13, 1962, page 19.

Photographs by Bob Swanson of The Daily Times, Davenport, Iowa

“Decker Ploehn anxiously watches the timekeeper as he downs a large piece of pie. Watching his technique are other boys and girls whose turns were still coming up.”
“Halfway through his wedge of pie, little Pat Duffy has to stop to chew and catch his breath as playmates do their best to distract him.”
“A systematic pie eater is Tom Genz. He took small, but rapid, bites and appeared unmindful that he was racing against the clock. Time still came out in the Garfield Playground contest as one capable of completing a full meal in a half-hour lunch period.”

We traced the popularity of pie-eating contests through the pages and years of the newspaper from 1905 to 1991. In the photo gallery below, we would like to share some fun events featuring activities of devouring this versatile dessert. They range from school and employee picnics to festivals and fairs.

We would like to delight your taste buds and inspire you to have your own pie-eating contests with recipes from our Local Cookbook Collection. We attempted to select recipes based on the four flavors from the 1962 Davenport Playground Style Pie-Eating Contest. The only recipe we were unable to find was one for boysenberry.


“Pie Eating – Davenport Playground Style” The Daily Times vol. 76, August 13, 1962, page 19

(Posted by Kathryn and Cristina)

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Summer Living: The Summer Porch

We’ve been enjoying cool breezes the past two days after a streak of hot and humid Midwestern weather. This unexpected cool down has brought many of us outside to enjoy the fresh air away from our air conditioned homes.

All that fresh air had our minds turning back to the days before air conditioning was standard in houses, apartments, and businesses. The time when outdoor porches became an extra living space in warm weather.

As Davenport expanded in the late 1800s into the early 1900s, people moved farther away from downtown with its apartment buildings and small houses built close together. They moved north towards Locust Street and into the hills of East Davenport. These developing areas provided shady trees, houses spread further apart, and the ability to catch a breeze was a little easier than the more crowded downtown area.

These new subdivisions featured houses with front porches that were covered against sun and rain. With chairs, tables, shades, plants, and rugs added during the summer months; it became an oasis from the stuffier rooms inside.

Larger homes built by wealthier residents featured not only front porches, but sun rooms and back patios as well to relax or entertain in.

Fortunately for us, it was also a wonderful place to have photos taken with natural light so their beauty has been preserved in photographs. We thought we would share a few images from our collection to remember this warm weather living space.

Mrs. Mary Burdick of 105 College Avenue is featured in her home’s sun room or rear porch. Her husband, Anthony Burdick, was president of the First National Bank in Davenport. Taken about 1910, this photo shows a well-to-do home with separate seating and work areas and curtained windows or screens. The modern address is 833 College Avenue.

Mrs. Anthony Burdick c. 1910. DPLVolume 55. Image dplx535b.

Mr. & Mrs. Julius Hasler had their photo taken on their porch between 1901 and 1908. Located at 1002 Brady Street, you can see the details of a brick porch column and the large window that would have allowed air and sunlight into the home.

Hanging swings were very popular as they not only allowed for swinging and enjoying a summer breeze, but also were found to be easy to clean under and store in the winter months. Seat cushions and pillows made the swing a pleasant place to relax.

Plants (especially ferns) were frequently found on porches as they added color, nature, and a little privacy if strategically placed on railings.

The Hasler home was torn down in 1920 with the expansion of the Palmer Chiropractic College campus.

Julius and Josephine Hasler c. 1901 – 1908. DPLVolume 32. Image dplx529-4.

The picture of what appears to be a mother and young infant is labeled as belonging to George McCandless. It most likely dates to circa 1910 and is a wonderful examples of a middle class family in Davenport at that time. The picture window on the right of the image is smaller than that of the Hasler family. Possibly indicating a newer built home or a home of more modest means.

The porch swing is well padded with a cushion and pillow. Besides the woman and child, the wooden shade is a main focus of the picture for researchers. These shades were extremely popular in the early twentieth century as they could be raised and lowered depending on the needs of the family. Linden wood and bamboo were two popular materials used for porch shades.

Porch shades were very popular in neighborhoods where the houses might be located closer together. They provided privacy, but also allowed for air and light to circulate on the porch. Shades also gave protection from glaring sunlight during the brightest part of the day.

Photo of woman and infant labeled George McCandless c. 1910. DPLVolume 57. Image dplx54..

We feel certain that parents loved a large porch in the summer (or maybe year round) for growing children. A place for them to play, read, or relax outside of the house. This picture of the E. A. Young family shows four children on a roomy porch.

The door on the right rear of the photo indicates the porch was most likely screened making the summer nights even more enjoyable without mosquitoes and flies joining your gathering.

Well placed area rugs could be swept clean while allowing a comfortable place for children to play. The furniture is placed against the walls of the house to allow for greater space.

The size of the porch indicates it most likely was part of a larger family residence. We aren’t sure if the size of the porch or the hair bows impressed us more.

E. A. Young family. ca. 1912. DPLVolume 71. Image dplx696a.

We thought we would end with this picture of Lavonius W. Petersen and his wife, Annette. This couple had their photo taken about 1905 at about the ages of 77 and 74. They are pictured in a peaceful setting surrounded by plants and trees with a comfortable rug beneath their feet while relaxing on a beautifully crafted porch. While we know the couple lived at 530 Western Avenue, we do not know if the picture was taken there or not as no porch exists today at that location.

This couple, who had raised seven children with three surviving in the 1900 United States Census, look as though they had earned the right to relax in this beautiful setting and reflect on their many years and experiences together.

L. W. Petersen ca. 1905. DPLVolume 51. Image dplx490.

We hope you have a chance to enjoy this beautiful summer weather and maybe have created an oasis of your own to enjoy. Remember to take a picture to save for future generations!

(Posted by Amy D.)

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Reading Colors Your World: Colorized Postcards

This year’s Summer Reading Program theme is Reading Colors Your World.

We found some beautifully colorized postcards in our collection and thought it would be interesting to compare them to the black & white versions of the same image. We also discovered that WordPress has a new way of displaying images that allows you to compare photos in a fun and easy way.

Click and drag the button in the middle of each image to swipe between black & white and color!

Public Library, Davenport, Iowa – Libraries PC005 [1915] and PC010 [n.d.]
Benevolent Order of Elks club house – Buildings PC106 [1914] and PC107 [n.d.]
St. Luke’s Hospital, Davenport, Iowa – PC006 [1910] and PC007 [n.d.]
Mercy Hospital, Davenport, Iowa – Hospitals PC004 [1911] and PC013 [n.d.]
St. Katharine’s from the East, Davenport, Iowa – Schools PC005 [1908] and PC006 [1908]
St. Katharine’s Hall, Davenport, Iowa – Schools PC009 [1908] and PC010 [n.d.]
The Outing Club – Buildings PC054 [1907] and PC056 [1908]
Rustic Bridge, Central Park, Davenport, Iowa – Parks-V V PC011 [1907] and PC012 [n.d.]
American Legion Post No. 26 – Buildings PC003 [n.d.] and PC068 [n.d.]
First Presbyterian Church, Davenport, Iowa – Churches PC024 [1903] and PC025 [1910]
Masonic Temple – Buildings PC021 [n.d.] and PC022[1912]

(posted by Cristina)

DPL Postcard Collection

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River Bend Vision: United Voice of Pride

River Bend Vision was a non-profit organization with the goal of “reaching out and providing a means of communication to gays and lesbians.” Their magazine/newsletter was published monthly beginning in June 1989, then bi-monthly from September 1990 through December 1991. We have an incomplete run (missing June, July, August, and November of 1989) in our collection.

The publication was started by Jack L. Johnson, a Moline native who had just moved back to the Quad Cities after living in San Diego and San Francisco. He saw a need for more openness towards people in the LGBTQ community and a way for them to connect with each other outside of the bar scene.

Each issue contained a directory of services that catered to the gay and lesbian community such as nightclubs, video stores, and book stores. Other sections in the magazine included personal ads; opinion/letters to the editor; local and national news about legislation affecting the community; gay and lesbian history/herstory; original writing in the form of poetry, short stories, and comic strips; book, movie, music, and business reviews; safe sex and medical advice, and even some recipes.

Issues were mailed to subscribers in plain white envelopes and the subscription list was confidential. Only first names were used and code numbers were used to answer personal ads. Discretion was of the utmost importance.

This title was published at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Browsing through these issues you get a sense of what it was like for the gay and lesbian community in the Quad Cities at that time.

Quad-City Times, July 3, 1989
River Bend Vision, Vol. 2 no. 2, July 1990

(posted by Cristina)

  • Penner, Diana. “Q-C man launches voice for gays – and steps out of the closet.” Quad-City Times, July 3, 1989.
  • River Bend Vision
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Iowa will celebrate the 175th anniversary of statehood this winter on December 28, 1846!

Our department has been trying to spread the word and bring attention to the event in some small ways. We have been posting little bits of Iowa History Trivia Tidbits on the Twenty-Ninth of each month, capitalizing on Iowa being the 29th state to join the Union.

We’ve gotten a little corny with our social media!

We welcomed a new book club:

We are reaching out to the young historians with cool activities planned by Goldie’s Kids Club:

Did you realize that Davenport became a city ten years before Iowa became a state?

Did you know that in 1846 Davenport’s population was about 1,000?

“Buffalo Bill” Cody was born in Scott County in 1846, so he would be 175 years old today!

1846 also brought a plow factory started by Mr. Bechtel, the first steam flouring mill opened by A.C. Fulton and a Board of Trustees for Iowa College was chosen. So much going on so very early!

There is so much to explore about Davenport’s and Iowa’s history. Be sure to follow us on social media and give us some “Iowa Love”!  Stay tuned for more #Iowa175 fun at the library!!

Design from

(posted by Karen)

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The Moaning Ghost of Esplanade Avenue

It was early summer in 1891 when talk began about the screams and moans coming from the woods near Esplanade Avenue in East Davenport. Those screams and moans sounded like a woman in distress, but no woman was ever seen.

Housewives began locking their doors at night. Children were called inside at dusk. Teachers reported fear in their classrooms as children discussed the terrible sounds coming from the dark woods near their homes. Those children who walked through the woods back and forth to school began to ask their parents to walk with them on their journey.

There were even rumors, sworn to be true, of a female figure floating down the streets towards the Mississippi River. Old timers in the neighborhood tried to think back to any terrible crime or tragic event that would have created this ghostly apparition, but no past stories could be remembered.

Why had it started, they wondered, and when would this terrible thing end?

Finally, on June 19, 1891, a more detailed story was written in The Daily Times. A man from Rock Island, Illinois had been visiting his sweetheart in East Davenport the evening before. Emil Farring was said to be the man’s name and he would regularly take the trolley line as near to her house as possible. It was in the area of Esplanade Avenue and Walnut Street (latter Fulton Avenue and now E. 12th Street) that he would set off on foot after disembarking from the trolley. There was a path through a darkly wooded area he followed which contained a wooden bridge over a small stream (most likely a small tributary coming from Duck Creek farther north). The area was hilly and dark deep in the woods which Mr. Farring admitted added to his discomfort late at night, but not enough to dissuade him from visiting his girl.

Esplanade Avenue & 12 1/2 Street – June 11, 2021. Photo by Amy D.

But this night, June 18th, was different. As he left from his visit to return home; he entered into the darkened woods heading towards the bridge which would take him to the safely lit area of Walnut Street.

He said he heard rustling in the woods. Thinking it was an animal going to the creek for a drink he continued to forge ahead. Then he heard it, a woman’s whimpering and whispering voice. Could a woman have entered the woods and gotten lost or hurt? As Mr. Farring looked around, peering into the darkened corners of the woods, the whimpering turned into a terrifying moan and a woman’s voice uttered the words “On yonder bridge rail you’ll find the name Dala Share.”

Mr. Farring took off in a run, he reported to the paper. The newspaper’s reporter stated that Mr. Farring told the story in the hopes that someone would go back to the bridge to look for the name as he no longer had the courage to do so.

Our intrepid reporter did just that and in the article gave us clues that we may use today to help locate this mysterious patch of woods near East Davenport. With Hose Company #4 as the main guide (the former address being 1502 Walnut Street, then 1502 Fulton Avenue, now 1502 E. 12th Street) we can roughly place the woods in question as running from E. 12th Street in the south to Esplanade Avenue to the west towards Kirkwood Blvd. to the north then to Adams Street to the east. An area with trees and culverts still today.

Image from Google Maps – June 11, 2021.

Our reporter found the bridge in question covered with the names of many couples who stopped to carve their names or initials on the bridge railings. Carved in one spot was the name Dala Share, but no one in the area remembered anyone by that name. Our research did not turn up the name either; though we did find the female names of Dalla and Dalia listed from the 1860s to 1890s, but not with a last name of Share or anything similar.

By June 22nd, The Daily Times was reporting that others had come forward with similar stories. Now the fear in the neighborhood increased and children were no longer allowed to roam the woods or play near the stream. Groups of neighbors began to search the woods to find the cause of the commotion. Was this a prank, an animal, or something more terrifying?

On June 21st, Mr. Hugo Smith with his wife and mother-in-law were walking the path towards the bridge in the late evening hours. They would later report they heard the sound of female moans as they approached the bridge from Esplanade Avenue. Then they saw it, a ghostly figure floating near the creek bed. The women began to run towards Walnut Street until they reached the corner and the Mt. Ida Meat Market (current address 1330 E. 12th Street). The husband following closely behind.

Mississippi Avenue near 12th Street – June 11, 2021. Photo by Amy D.

We found in the 1880 and 1900 U.S. census that a Mr. H. A. Smith and his family lived near the Mt. Ida Meat Market at 1319 Fulton Avenue.

The June 25, 1891 Daily Times, gave the final update to this story. It seemed, according to the newspaper, hundreds of people were descending on the small woods to hunt out the ghostly female. Even the Davenport Police Department altered their patrols to cover the area. And this final update was strange indeed.

Just before sunrise on June 25th, a few neighbors saw the ghostly apparition appear near the bridge. Seemingly, once again, floating near the creek bank. She was described as being shorter than medium height and about 120 pounds wearing a long robe with her feet floating a foot off the ground.

She appeared happy as she floated towards the bridge with the name Dala Share inscribed on it. Lingering a moment, she soon headed towards Esplanade Avenue and the Mt. Ida Meat Market. She then turned and neared Hose Company #4 located at 1502 Fulton Avenue (now 1502 E. 12th Street). Gazing up she moved past the building and turned towards the Mississippi River.

Adams Street & E. 13th Street. Leading to a ravine in the woods. June 11, 2021. Photo by Amy D.

She continued southeast past the railroad tracks and trolley line toward the river bank. Passing near what are now Iowa American Water buildings before floating into the river.

It is here, the story as told to the newspaper takes an even stranger turn. The ghost was seen to fall to one knee and her shoulders and head jerked backwards. The smile vanishing from her face. Suddenly, another figure developed on the water. A man holding a dagger stood over the figure and then plunged his right arm down as if to stab the woman. Both figures vanished only to reappear, it was said, across the river near the Moline, Illinois side of the river bank.

The citizens of East Davenport, it was reported, hoped the troubled ghostly woman and her unearthly companion had chosen to take up a new residence across the river.

The last mention we found of the ghost was from The Daily Times in October 1891. The light committee of Davenport City Council had chosen to remove the electric lights near Esplanade Avenue and Fulton Avenue. The article mentions the area was the one in which the ghost once roamed the woods nearby, but fortunately, at least for that neighborhood, the ghost appears to have not been seen since that fateful night in June.

There was no report from the Moline side of the river though.

(posted by Amy D.)


The Daily Times, June 19, 1891. Pg. 4

The Daily Times, June 22, 1891. Pg. 4

The Daily Times, June 25, 1891. Pg. 4

The Daily Times, October 27, 1891. Pg. 4

Google maps

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Early Horticultural Pursuits in Scott County, Iowa

On Tuesday evening, April 26, 1859, in the Davenport law offices of Howard Darlington, Esq., a constitution was adopted by a gathering of Scott County residents interested in forming a Horticultural Society. [1] The second article of the constitution announced the Society’s purpose: “….to promote and foster the cultivation of fruits, flowers and vegetables in our own county and a taste for ornamental and landscape gardening…” and to “…introduce and test new and choice varieties…and afterwards publicly report thereon.” [2]

The first official meeting of the Horticultural Society was held the first week of June, and as quickly as Saturday, June 18th, the first exhibition took place in Metropolitan Hall. Said the editors of the Daily Iowa State Democrat on Sunday the 19th, “[t]he quantity of the specimens far exceeded our expectations, while the quality was of a higher standard than we had any idea could be found in Scott County.” They also noted the presence of many women, who “among the sweet flowers looked more beautiful.” [3] Indeed, the number of ladies exhibiting flower and fruit specimens was close to that of the gentlemen.

Among those active in Society’s early days are names already familiar to us from our Davenport family history research. George L. Nickolls, son of the Kentucky man who had formerly enslaved Albert Nuckols, had “about thirty-seven acres of land under a high state of cultivation” on Harrison Street north of Locust, and a one-hundred-foot-long hot-house by which he could “give his plants an early start, and could also keep them from freezing in winter.” Nickolls, the Vice-President of the Society in 1859, had high hopes for producing grapes, boasting that “bunches of some of his varieties will weigh eight pounds.” [4] At that first exhibition, he presented a “box of Iowa prolific strawberries,” and at the second semi-annual exhibition, held in September, he was awarded the premium for the “Best Lot Vegetables.” One wonders if Albert Nuckols was an uncredited support for Nickolls’ success — it is unclear if and how they associated with one another after arriving in Davenport a few years earlier. However, Mrs. Warrick’s (wife of barber J.H. Warrick) award for “Best Cabbage” suggests that people of color were welcome to participate. [5]

Map of the City of Davenport and its Suburbs, Scott County, Iowa (Hogane and Lambach, 1857)

Evidence of the Killion family’s activity is always readily found in the local newspapers, and in the same September 1859 Horticultural Society Exhibition, John H. Killion exhibited two varieties each of tomatoes, potatoes, and corn, as well as squash, sweet potatoes, and crab apples. “Mrs. K. had some very choice butter,” winning the premium.

Livy S. Viele was the Recording Secretary of the Society at its inception. His seed and farm implement business was essential to the growing number of horticultural enthusiasts:

Davenport City Directory for 1858

Homer S. Finley was also an early participant in the Horticultural Society exhibitions He was in the nursery business with land to the northwest of the city and next to Ebenezer Cook’s in the west end, on the road to Buffalo along the Mississippi River.

Map of the City of Davenport and its Suburbs, 1857
Map of the City of Davenport and its Suburbs, 1857

According to Wilkie, “Mr. Finley commenced this buisness in 1839, and after Herculean efforts has succeeded in establish one of the finest and largest nurseries in the West.” [6]

Exhibitions were produced in June and September of each year for the life of the Scott County Horticultural Society, which appears to have been active through about 1890. Regular meetings were held at the Davenport Academy of Sciences.

(posted by Katie)

[1] Davenport Daily Gazette, April 28, 1859; [2] The Willard Barrows History, as republished in Downer, History of Davenport and Scott County, 1910, p. 216-217; [3] Daily Iowa State Democrat, June 19, 1859; [4] Daily Iowa State Democrat, May 26, 1859; [5] Daily Iowa State Democrat, September 22, 1859; [6], Franc B. Wilkie, Davenport Past and Present (Davenport: Luse and Lane, 1858), p. 267.

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AAPI Heritage – Vietnamese Refugees in the Quad Cities

By the summer of 1975, the first of the Vietnam War refugees evacuated from their country by U.S. forces began to arrive in the Quad-Cities. Organizations in Davenport, Rock Island, and Moline had pledged to help these families find housing and employment, to learn English, and to adjust to a new culture. Their stories, covered by the local press, are summarized here in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Thu T. Nguyen & Phuong X. Ngo


The first family to arrive in the Quad Cities arrived at the Quad-City Airport on the 4th of July, 1975. Thu T. Nguyen, his pregnant wife Phuong X. Ngo, their daughter Yuan Thuyen (age 12), and sons Huy (age 10), and Nang (age 4) were sponsored by the Friends of Children of Vietnam, Quad-Cities Chapter.

Their son Richard was born on August 27, 1975, at St. Luke’s Hospital in Davenport. Thu enrolled as a student at Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Thu had been a lieutenant colonel in the South Vietnam Army. An expert in psychological warfare, he was instrumental in negotiating the release of prisoners of war between North and South Vietnam. His wife Phuong was a jade specialist in Saigon.

“It’s hard to adjust at 40. When I fled from Communism in Hanoi, I was only 19 so it was not so hard to adjust. Now, at 40 with a wife, three children, and another on the way, it’s like starting my life all over.” Quad-City Times, August 17, 1975

Jean Carizey & Ton Nu Thi Sam

Perkins, Claranne. “Refugees Slowly Begin New Q-C Lives.” Quad-City Times, August 17, 1975.

Jean Carizey, his wife Ton Nu Thi Shaam “Sam,” and their children Juliette (age 11), George (age 9), Robert (age 7), and Rene (age 2) arrived at the Quad City Airport on July 6, 1975. The family was sponsored by Trinity Lutheran Church (Lutheran World Relief) in Moline and initially lived in a house owned by the church. They came here after sending time at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas.

He was born in Dien Bien Phu to a French father.

Carizey had worked as a field and survey engineer for an American firm in Saigon. He was able to find work as a combine tester for Deere & Co. before landing a job as a surveyor for American Engineering Co. in Moline.

Jean spoke English and the rest of the family started taking classes at the camp, then continued through the church.

Hoanh Vo & Anh Thi Ngoc Pham

Quad-City Times, February 17, 1981

Hoanh Vo, his wife Anh, daughters Trinh and Tram, and son Trung arrived at the Quad City Airport on September 22, 1975. Their son William was born December 22, 1975, in Davenport. The family became citizens of the United States on April 1, 1982. They stayed in the Quad Cities through the mid-1980s, then moved to Texas.

He was born in 1940 in Saigon. He had a 15-year military career and had been a Major in the South Vietnamese Army. He worked as a French professor at the University of Saigon and instructor of Political Science at Saigon Military School. He wrote anti-communist articles for both French and Vietnamese newspapers.

He bought an 8-foot boat for $5,000 in gold and diamonds. The family left Vietnam on May 3, 1975. It took them 4 days to get to Thailand, where they spent 3 months and lost their youngest daughter. He feared that his parents may have been killed.

The Vo family was sponsored by First Baptist Church in Davenport. They rented an apartment at 3300 E Kimberly Road. He got a job as a security guard for International Harvester Farmall working 2nd shift. In the mornings before going to work he helped new refugees. He wrote articles for New Life Refugee newsletter, the Spirit of Vietnam, and Tan Dan newsletter.

His wife Anh started working at Bettendorf Bank and learned bookkeeping at Scott Community College. She then worked for a furniture company during the day and helped refugees in the evenings.

Doung Ba Le & Minh-Quang Thi Vu

Quad-City Times, November 7, 1975

Duong Le was born on February 10, 1947, in South Vietnam. He met Minh-Quang Vu when he was buying airplane tickets for his family to get out of Vietnam. They ran into each other again at Camp Pendleton. Duong, his mom, dad, 2 brothers, and 1 sister arrived in the Quad Cities on September 15, 1975. Minh-Quang and her father arrived on September 24, 1975.

They were sponsored by Trinity Lutheran Church in Pleasant Valley and Zion Lutheran Church in Burlington. The couple was married on November 1, 1975.

Duong took English classes at Black Hawk College and wanted to study electronics or mechanics. Minh already spoke English, French, and Chinese. She took typing classes.

Vinh Quang Pham

Vinh Quang Pham was born June 4, 1952 in Ninh Binh. He was a soldier in the South Vietnamese Army. With the help of his sponsor, Calvary Lutheran Church, he found a job as a mechanic at Tom Tague Dodge. Although he did not speak English, he was able to read the manuals. He opened Vinh’s Auto Repair in 1980.

Vinh married Cynthia M. Carlson on June 6, 1976, at Calvary Baptist Church in Moline. Cynthia, a recent graduate of Augustana College, volunteered to teach English to Vinh and his brother, Quy’s family.

Vinh Quang Pham died on November 12, 2020.

“When I come to American , I have nothing. Now I have everything.”

Vinh Quang Pham, Moline Dispatch, February 28, 1976

Buong Trong Hoang & No Thi Hoang

The Dispatch, October 10, 1975

Buong Trong Hoang, his wife, No Thi, and children Thi Thuy Tiem (age 7), Duc (age 4), and Thao (age 15 months) arrived in the Quad Cities on July 24, 1975. The family was sponsored by South Park Presbyterian Church in Rock Island.

He had been an Air Force pilot and flew about 60 refugees to Thailand. They then went to a refugee camp in Vietnam and a military base in Arkansas, where they waited for a sponsor.

Buong had a degree in Agriculture, Lumbering, and Husbandry. He found work in the assembly line at International Harvester Farmall. His wife No Thi had worked as a secretary-accountant for the South Vietnam government and was looking for work as a tailor or dressmaker.

The Hoang family became U.S. citizens on January 13, 1981. Buong’s brother, Minh Trong Hoang, escaped from Vietnam on June 16, 1988. He had been a manager of a radio station in Nha Trang and received telecommunications training from Americans.

Nghia Thi Nguyen Oxendine

Quad-City Times, July 8, 2007

Nghia Thi Nguyen was born on March 15, 1945, in North Vietnam to Tinh Hiu and Gian Thi Nguyen. She met Master Sergeant Stanley Oxendine while he was stationed in Vietnam in the late 1960s. After his 2-year tour with the Army, Stanley stayed in Vietnam as a civilian, working for Bell Aircraft and the U.S. Embassy. The couple moved to the Quad Cities in 1975 when Stanley was transferred to the Rock Island Arsenal to work as a Supply Management Specialist.

Nghia and Stanley were married on November 4, 1978 in Davenport; they next year they opened their restaurant, American Vietnamese Oriental Foods, at 1507 Harrison Street. It was so successful that they moved to a bigger space at 1228 Brady in 1981, changing the name to Nghia’s Restaurant. The couple had 3 children.

Learn more about Vietnamese families in the Quad-Cities by viewing this gallery of images from local newspapers:


(posted by Cristina)

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A Club for Singing and Fellowship: the Northwest Davenport Liedertafel Ladies

On March 24, 1885, a small group of German immigrants organized to form the Northwest Davenport Liedertafel with ten active members, one of which was P.N. Jacobsen, and six passive members with Henry Restorf as music director (“Liedertafel has Big Celebration” 1910). Liedertafel is a name for a society or club which meets to practice male parts of songs.

The Northwest Davenport Liedertafel held its meetings and activities at Jacobsen’s Hall, also known as Jacobsen’s Tavern or the Farmer’s Hall, located at 1663 West Locust Street, Davenport, Iowa now known as Five Points. Peter Nicolai Jacobsen became synonymous with the singing group. He was born in Eckernfoerde, Schleswig on March 24 1833 the first of thirteen children of Claus and Dorothea (Moeller) Jacobsen. He married Anna Gerdts, who was born in 1829 in Eckernfoerde, the daughter of Johann and Dorothea (Hinrichsen) Gerdts. In 1856, the young couple made their way to Scott County, Iowa. He owned and managed a hotel and was a cigar manufacturer. (Roskom, Kathie 2015)

The Liedertafel society participated and supported a variety music festivals and celebrations including the 1903 Saengerfest held in Schuetzen Park. This organization bolstered a sense of community for the German immigrants who settled in Davenport and Scott County through the expression of song and gathering for social events.

In September 1901, the Damen Zirkel of Northwest Davenport Liedertafel Ladies Organization was formed by Peter N. Jacobsen, a member of the men’s Liedertafel. Beginning with 24 members, the group has had as many as 350 in the 1960s. Monthly meetings were held at the Northwest Turner Hall located at 1602 Washington Street in Davenport.

“Liedertafel has Big Celebration.” The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), Mar. 27, 1910.

After 25 years in 1910, the male Liedertafel society grew to reach 126 members with 19 active singers. The women’s auxiliary comprised of 60 women. They celebrated their silver jubilee with a large celebration with a program that brought together all the Saengerbunds of the tri-cities including “the Davenport Maennerchor, the singing section of the Davenport Turngemeinde, the Germania Saengerchor, Rock Island Maennerchor, and the Concordia-Germania society of Moline” (“Liedertafel has Big Celebration” 1910). The men’s Liedertafel disbanded around the time of World War I because of anti-German sentiment and restrictions on speaking the German language.

However, the Northwest Davenport Liedertafel Ladies continued to flourish. The object of the society was both social and beneficial. The membership reflect dual purpose by offering full or benefit and social membership. Dues were collected and benefit members received a $50.00 death benefit which was started by the men’s group in 1891. Activities included singing, playing cards and picnics. (“Liedertafel Means Singing” 1966)

“Liedertafel Ladies’ Club to Note 50th Anniversary.” The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, Iowa), September 12, 1951.

In 1951, the year of their 50th Anniversary, the group was still active and posted notices in the local newspapers such as the one above announcing their anniversary luncheon and the newspaper clippings below noting luncheons, card parties, and a Christmas party.

Proctor, Sharon. “Liedertafel Means Singing.” Times-Democrat (Davenport, IA), Dec. 16, 1966.

The Northwest Davenport Liedertafel Ladies [Damen Zirkel] Records dating from 1921-2008 are housed at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center. This collection consists of materials recording the activities and actions of the ladies through organizational minutes, membership records, financial records, and realia (objects and material from everyday life).
The collection is organized into series and then chronologically. The documents hold information about the decisions the society made at their meetings as well as an extensive record of their membership.

In the “Liedertafel Ladies’ Club to Note 50th Anniversary” article, two charter members are mentioned. With the aid of the Liedertafel Ladies Records, we will look at the records of Maria (Marie or Mary) Schreck.

Maria Schreck was born on August 10, 1865 in Kellinghusen, Kreis Steinburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany to Claus and Anna Suhl. According to Anna Suhl’s obituary published in The Daily Times on May 16, 1931, Maria and her family emigrated from Germany in 1880 and came directly to Davenport. She was between the ages of 15 and 17. She married Juergen F. Schreck on June 2, 1883 according to the Iowa Marriage Index. She passed away at age 88 on June 12, 1954 and she was buried at Fairmount Cemetery. Her obituary published in the Democrat-Times on June 13, 1954 states prominently that she was a charter member of the Liedertafel Ladies, a member of the Northwest Davenport Turners auxiliary, and the Old Settlers club member.

From the Liedertafel Ladies Records, she was listed as a full member and her join date was in September 1901. The membership records also document those who drop their membership or pass away.

Over the years she was a member of the society, Maria was mentioned in various newspaper articles about her activities with the group. The 1938 article below notes that she “received the flower fun prize”.

“Meeting Is Held by Turner Group.” The Daily Times (Davenport, IA), May 13, 1938.

The Liedertafel Ladies Records we reviewed only touch on the activities Maria Schreck participated in as a member of this groups. A more thorough examination of the minutes and the membership records would probably reveal a plethora way she and the other members created a wonderful society for fellowship and singing.

The images below showcase materials from the collection include copies of the Constitution and By-Laws from 1956 to 2002, membership booklets in English and German, and the minutes beginning in 1940s. We are happy to share their stories with the Davenport and Scott County communities.


“Liedertafel has Big Celebration.” The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), Mar. 27, 1910.

“Liedertafel Ladies’ Club to Note 50th Anniversary.” The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, Iowa), Sept. 12, 1951.

Northwest Davenport Liedertafel Ladies [Damen Zirkel] Records, 2015-18, Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center, Davenport Public Library, Davenport, Iowa.

Northwest Davenport Liedertafel Ladies [Damen Zirkel] Records, 2015-18, Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center, Davenport Public Library, Davenport, Iowa. Accessed May 22, 2021.

Proctor, Sharon. “Liedertafel Means Singing.” Times-Democrat (Davenport, IA), Dec. 16, 1966.

Roskom, Kathie. “Peter Nicolai Jacobsen.” Jacobsen Family Tidbits, October 21, 2015.

Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary. S.v. “Liedertafel.” Retrieved May 22 2021 from

(posted by Kathryn)

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