Hostetler’s Houses: 701 Brady Street

We’ve featured many of the J.B. Hostetler portraits in this space, but our collection of the Studio’s images also includes a few photographs of area residences.

If you are headed up Brady Street hill as a participant in the Bix 7 this July, or otherwise, be sure to take note of the house at 701 (Brady and 7th Streets, NW corner).

This handsome home, called “Highview,” was built in 1907 for Maria Agnes McGee and Leander (Lee) L. Beauchaine.

Vol. 113, dplx1117d

Lee Beauchaine was the operator of the Slate House, saloon and hotel at the Davenport end of the Government Bridge, from 1894 until Prohibition began. He first came to the city in 1890 as a traveling salesman for a Detroit tobacco company.

Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), 9 Feb 1927, page 2

In 1892 he married the notorious “Mamie” or “Biddy” McGee. She was the likely owner of the house at 701 Brady, having acquired multiple Davenport properties that she rented to prostitutes. As Sharon Wood notes, McGee was different from other local brothel-keepers, a savvy landlady who “pursued rather than drifted into vice…” to gain wealth. (The Freedom of the Streets: Work, Citizenship, and Sexuality in a Gilded Age City, p. 98).

Mamie and Lee’s marriage was not without strife. The couple’s many violent “rows” at the Slate House were reported in the local newspapers. She threatened to divorce him more than once. Ultimately, they stayed together until Lee’s death in 1927. On a trip to Ireland in 1906, the pair experienced a religious awakening, and returned to Davenport repentant. Occupying the Brady Street residence was perhaps a move towards greater respectability, as was adopting a daughter in 1915. Marie Katherine Beauchaine attended the Immaculate Conception Academy in the city and was married to Ray Hinds in April 1937.

Mrs. Beauchaine was certainly proud of her home: She was the winner of a Christmas light display contest in December 1927.

Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), 30 Dec 1927, page 6

Other than a few reports of break-ins, not much more is known about the property itself. Mamie McGee Beauchaine lived at 701 Brady Street until her death in 1949.

Stay tuned for more stories behind the houses photographed by J.B. Hostetler!

(posted by Katie)

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UMVDIA Spotlight: “Mrs. Seth Temple Daughter”

This sweet photograph of a little girl with her doll in an outdoor scene was taken in 1918 by J. B. Hostettler of Davenport, Iowa. The original negative envelope was labeled “Mrs. Seth Temple daughter.” From our research, we have learned that this little girl’s name was Alice Muriel Temple. She was the daughter of Seth Justin Temple and Alice Maude Gamble. She was born on August 2, 1909 in Davenport, Iowa. She had four siblings named Holmes (1897-1912), Gilbert (1899-1983), Arthur (1902-1951), and Malcolm (1906-1997).

“First Mothers’ Social Club in Davenport Formed at Pierce School.” The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), May 31, 1914, page 17.

Miss Alice Muriel attended Pierce School in the Village of East Davenport similar to her elder brothers. She was in kindergarten in 1914 according to an article published in The Davenport Democrat and Leader where she went by “Muriel Temple.”

The Temple family was frequently found in the newspapers of Davenport. Seth Temple was a prominent architect in Davenport and designed many of the houses in McClellan Heights where he had his own home.

One such article details an annual summer lawn fete held by the Woman’s Missionary Auxiliary of Trinity Cathedral at the Temple Home. The fete offered talks about recent missionary works, a humorous story told by Miss Alice French, and delights of various performances by girls and women of all ages including a dance with little girls including Muriel Temple who performed in “‘The Dandelion,’ a charming little flower dance.” The event successfully raised a nice sum of money for the regular mission fund.

“Auxiliary Lawn Fete at Temple Home is Delightful Affair.” The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), Jun. 20, 1919, page 5.

Alice attended St. Katharine’s School and graduated from Davenport High School in 1927. She went on to attend the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts and the New York School of Interior Decoration. After graduating, she became a member of the Edgewood Park Junior College faculty in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The Blackhawk. Davenport, IA: Unknown, 1927.

We have a strong inkling that Alice met her future spouse James Francis Glenn at Edgewood Park Junior College where he was a professor of chemistry. He is the son of William Darby Glenn and Ella Cynthia Carroll in York, South Carolina on December 20, 1905. They married on her parent’s 40th wedding anniversary on June 12, 1936, at 25 McClellan Boulevard.

“Miss Temple will become Bride of Eastern Man at Home Ceremony on Friday.” The Daily Times (Davenport, IA), June 8, 1936, page 6.

The Temple home was decorated with candlelight, ferns, and flowers for the nuptial ceremony. The Davenport Democrat and Leader reported that Alice wore a “lovely pink chiffon floor-length afternoon gown, fashioned with short sleeves puffed to the elbow. She carried a shower bouquet of pink roses.”

“Miss Alice Muriel Temple Weds James Francis Glenn at Effective Ceremony.” The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), Jun. 12, 1936, page 6.

After their wedding, they returned to Connecticut where they continued to work as teachers. In the 1940 Census, it shows that they had moved to Briarcliff Manor, New York. According to the 1950 Census, they lived in Salisbury, Maryland with their two sons, James D. and Thomas C. They had moved there in 1944 for James’ position as a chemistry professor at Salisbury State College. After a long illness, Alice passed away on December 27, 1972, in Salisbury, Maryland. James passed away on October 12, 1984, in Omaha Nebraska. They are both buried at Wicomico Memorial Park in Salisbury, Maryland.

“Mrs. J. F. Glenn.” The Daily Times (Salisbury, MD), Dec. 28, 1972, page 15.


Lanie. “Alice Muriel Temple Glenn.” Find a Grave. Find a Grave, Feb. 21, 2011. Jul. 2, 2024.*bhz3dx*_gcl_au*MTYyMjMxMzI2LjE3MTI5NDQzNDQ.*_ga*MTE5MzI4MTUzMy4xNzEyOTQ0MzQ0*_ga_4QT8FMEX30*YzZjZmEwMDgtYmNhMC00YTk0LWE2YmUtODU3ODM0MmRjZjJlLjI0LjEuMTcxOTUyMTYyOC4yOS4wLjA.*_ga_LMK6K2LSJH*YzZjZmEwMDgtYmNhMC00YTk0LWE2YmUtODU3ODM0MmRjZjJlLjIyLjEuMTcxOTUyMTYyOC4wLjAuMA.

“Announce Engagement of Miss Alice Muriel Temple and James Francis Glenn.” The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), Jun. 8, 1936, page 4.

“Glenn-Temple Wedding Party is Announced.” The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), Jun. 10, 1936, page 4.

(posted by Kathryn)

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Wedding Memories: Emil L. Dammann and Lena Witt

On June 20, 1917, Emil L. Dammann and Paulina “Lena” Witt were married in Davenport, Iowa by Mayor John Barewald. The Daily Times newspaper account of the wedding mentioned that Mayor Barewald performed the ceremony in Plattdeutschen, or Low German, a German dialect located in Northern Germany. While Emil and Lena both were born in Scott County, Iowa, their families, like many others in the region, had immigrated from Northern Germany and spoke Low German at home and with neighbors.

Before or after the City Hall ceremony, Emil and Lena stopped to have their photograph taken at the Hostetler Studio in Davenport. Three images were saved onto glass negatives which, unfortunately, were damaged over the years.

DPL Volume 187, dpl15952_a.

Emil L. Dammann was born June 28, 1881 in Sheridan Township, Scott County, Iowa to Hans and Katherine Dammann who were farmers. As an adult, Emil started his own farm in Sheridan Township near Eldridge. On July 27, 1906, Emil married Dora Heldt in Davenport. The couple had one son and one daughter before Dora died the day after giving birth to another son in April 1913. Dora was buried in Pine Hill Cemetery in Davenport.

Paulina “Lena” Witt was born June 9, 1884 in Scott County, Iowa to Heinrich and Magdalena Witt. Lena was the oldest of 13 children born to the couple. By the age of 16, Lena was working as a housekeeper for family and friends in Scott and Clinton counties. Her marriage to Emil was her first.

DPL Volume 187, dpl15952_b.

In the photographs, Lena is wearing a light color short-sleeve summer dress that appears to be white. Her main jewelry is a choker of beads in a darker color. Emil is in a dark three button suit and matching vest. He has a white shirt and light color tie underneath the vest and jacket. The bride and groom are wearing a matching corsage/boutonniere made with what appears to be a fern and a carnation (or similar flower) with the flower head facing down. Lena carries a mixed bouquet of ferns and flowers that matches the corsage/boutonniere.

After the wedding (and photographs) the couple returned to Emil’s farm outside Eldridge without taking a honeymoon.

Emil and Lena farmed in Sheridan Township until 1947 when they retired and moved into the town of Eldridge. Lena died on the couple’s 37th wedding anniversary in 1954. Emil passed a little over a month later on July 31, 1954. They were buried in the Dammann plot in Pine Hill Cemetery in Davenport.

DPL Volume 187, dpl15952_c.

Fun fact, Emil’s daughter (and Lena’s stepdaughter) Adeline would grow up to marry Lena’s younger brother, Ferdinand Witt, on June 8, 1929. Ferdinand was 18 years younger than Lena and only 4 years older than Adaline.

(posted by Amy D.)

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Flower Power Displays at Vander Veer Park

As we approach the official start of summer better known as the summer solstice, we see the verdant plants of the City of Davenport’s Parks growing and blooming. As part of the Vander Veer Follow Your Roots program at our centrally located city park, the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center’s staff offered a history walk of this nearly 139-year-old greenspace.

We highlighted some of Vander Veer Park’s landscapes and plants. We featured this set of plans for this very colorful and kaleidoscopic flower display. These items may be found in our accession #2003-09: Davenport Leisure Services & Facilities Parks Collection. They are part of a set of 34 plans for carpet beds designed by Frank Wulf during the 1960s and 1970s that were installed in various beds throughout Vander Veer Botanical Park. The designs are created on kraft paper with colored pencils.

Frank Wulf describes these delightful “carpet bed” gardens as European Style designs in the article below featured in Focus of the Times-Democrat. They feature more than “a dozen varieties of plants” to create the swirling designs. They have to be painstakingly measured to conform to the geometric shapes. The plants had a set trimming schedule to bring out their particular designs.

These beautifully intricate designs added a visual feast to one of Davenport’s favorite parks over the years.


#2003-09: Davenport Leisure Services & Facilities Parks Collection

Times-Democrat (Davenport, Iowa) Aug 26, 1973, page 64.

(posted by Kathryn)

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Celebrating Teachers: Ada Copley Phelps

As another school year comes to an end, we looked through our photograph collections for images of local teachers. We found the Davenport High School graduation photos of Ada Rebecca Copley from 1918.

Ada was born January 28, 1900 near LeClaire, Scott County, Iowa to Richard and Ida (LaGrange) Copley. Ada was the couple’s only daughter and grew up with four brothers.

Ada Copley – 1918. DPLVolume 251 #17338a

Ada graduated from Davenport High School in June 1918 and started teaching at the Laurel School near Summit, Scott County, Iowa in September 1918. In 1920, Ada left her teaching position to enter the University of Iowa. She returned to teaching for the Davenport Independent School District in the fall of 1922 before being hired full-time for the district.

Ada Copley – 1918. DPLVolume 251 #17338b

In 1928, Ada married Glen A. Phelps on June 26, 1928. Ada continued teaching for the Davenport School District after her marriage. She is listed as a teacher in the U. S. Census of 1930, but is not employed in the U.S. Census of 1940 where she is married to Glen with a one month old daughter.

The Daily Times, June 27, 1928. Pg. 8

Glen obtained his pilot’s license in August 1930 and Ada was not far behind when she obtained hers in December 1930. They became the first couple in Iowa to both have their pilot licenses. They would later build their home on 200 acres of farmland they purchased in 1933 on Jersey Ridge north of Kimberly Road. The Phelps built a landing strip and hanger for their Velie Monoprop behind the house so it would not be a distraction for their neighbors. (Quad-City Times July 22, 1987. Pgs. 35, 38)

Davenport Democrat and Leader, January 12, 1931. Pg. 12

In 1987, Ada developed her property into Windsor Meadows subdivision.

Quad-City Times, July 22, 1987. Pg. 35

Ada Copley Phelps passed away on August 6, 1996 leaving behind three children, six grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. She is buried adjoining her husband (who passed away in 1957) in Oakdale Memorial Gardens in Davenport.

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Davenport’s First Chinese Immigrants

In honor of Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month, we’ve put our minds to uncovering the earliest Davenporters of Asian descent: Chinese immigrants in the laundry business.

This advertisment ran daily in the Davenport Gazette daily from June 26-July 3rd, 1875, the first evidence of a “Chinese Laundry” available in the city:

We found no further information about the location at 115 East Second Street (between Brady and Perry) in the 1870s, or Sam Lee, who offered “All kinds of laundry work done in the best manner.”

The 1882-83 city directory for Davenport introduces Y. A. Lung and the Sing Wah (Wah Sing?) Bros.:

The 1885 Iowa state census for Davenport has both Lungs (Yee, Hen) and Wahs (Sing, James Em, Jo), all males in their twenties, living and working in laundries on Perry Street:

These are local newspaper advertisements from the spring of 1887 for both families’ establishments:

Hen Lee’s laundry at 434 Brady Street had been their competition since at least 1884, when the the first advertisement below appeared (Davenport Democrat, 15 Aug); the second is contemporary with Lung and Wah’s (Morning Democrat, 3 Apr 1887).

The “Chinese Laundry” locations labeled on the 1886 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map for Davenport correspond with addresses in the ads: Ye Lung at 317 Perry, Sing Wah at 309 Perry (both on East side between 3rd and 4th Streets), and Hen Lee at 434 Brady (SW corner of Brady and 5th Streets).

These businesses were active from the 1880s through the turn of the century, though it was mostly their misfortunes that made it into the newspapers. Ye Lung’s laundry was robbed on October 26, 1886, and although the report employed several negative racial stereotypes about Chinese Americans (also African Americans and Irish Americans) in describing the event, we do learn that Lung (and perhaps others in the local Chinese community) had not assimilated as far as personal appearance went. It noted that he wore a single braid and traditional dress.

One of Hen Lee’s employees was badly beaten near the laundry in the early morning of September 20, 1896. Luckily for us, the report does provide the names of two Chinese men in Davenport that are not recorded elsewhere: the victim, San Yon, and his fellow worker, Joe Chin. Unfortunately, we have not found further information about either man.

Hen Lee himself appears to have been as much a perpetrator as a victim of crimes in the city. A January 1895 tobacco-chewing “match” between he and his neighbor, cigar maker Theodore Kuehl, escalated into a “shooting scrape.” (Daily Leader, 8 February) Lee pled guilty to “lewdness” before the police court in early April 1903; he had been found with a known sex worker Emma Kranz in a back room of his laundry. (Davenport Morning Star, 3 April) Sam Lee’s objection to being confused with this Han Lee, as reported in the Daily Times for April 3, lets us know that by this time there was a fourth laundryman of Chinese descent in the city; his establishment was located at 514 West Second Street.

Accidents also made the news. The Lung, Wah, and Hen Lee laundries all had their windows damaged at some point during this period. A man was pushed into Ye Lung’s window in July 1889; in December 1891, a man named St. Clair sent a woman named Nora Winston through Sing Wah’s front window with a punch, the result being “to thoroughly ventilate Sing’s place of business.” (Davenport Democrat, 11 Dec ) At Hen Lee’s, in April 1893, a “…howling spring zephyr ricocheted in some mysterious way across the railroad track and smashed the glass, leaving an opening big enough to shove a bale of hay through.” (Daily Leader, 7 April)

We’ll conclude this review of the history of Chinese Americans in Davenport on a positive note, by noting some positive reports, both involving Sing Wah. He was praised by the Davenport Democrat for his contributions to the Art Museum that opened in June of 1882:

Sing Wah was also among the group of Tri-City laundrymen who threw a Chinese New Year party for the First Presbyterian Sunday School teachers in February of 1894 (Davenport Daily Leader, 8 February). This was done in thanks for an invitation to the Church’s Christmas supper.

As always, please let us know if you have additional information on the early Chinese community in Davenport to share!

(posted by Katie)

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Davenport in the Digital Public Library of America

Would you like to explore the history of Davenport and Scott County but are unable to travel to our Special Collections Center to peruse our shelves and archives? With the dedicated work of the Digital Public Library of America and its contributors, you can easily access books, maps, and other sources from anywhere in the world. This extraordinary project, launched in the spring of 2013, brings together the digital collections created by libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions from across the country.

To find these fascinating items about our region, search for “Davenport, Iowa,” “Scott County, Iowa,” and other keywords to find desired titles and subjects. The search functionality is easy and simple for all users.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Davenport, Iowa” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 14, 2024.

As we search for Davenport-related materials, we discover Civil War resources, contract cards for Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa), and John Henry Hauberg Papers from Augustana College to name a few eye-catching results. One can also find and read several key histories of the area through this valuable resource such as the works of Mr. Harry E. Downer, Mr. Franc B. Wilkie, and many others. Other source materials such as Geschichte der stadt Davenport und der County Scott : nebst seitenblicken auf das territorium und den staat Iowa in German are also available.

“Davenport, past and present: including the early history, and personal and anecdotal reminiscences of Davenport ; together with biographies, likenesses of its prominent men ; compendious articles upon physical, industrial, social and political characteristics of the city ; statistics of every department of note or interest, & c. / by Franc B.Wilkie.” In the digital collection Making of America Books. University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 15, 2024.
Huebinger, M. & Co. (109) Sketch of Scott County. Scott County and Davenport City Offices. Descriptive Sketch of Davenport, Iowa.,Atlas of Scott County, Iowa. Containing Also Maps Of The Three Cities, Davenport, Rock Island, And Moline, Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island Rapids And The Hennepin Canal. Compiled And Drawn From Surveys And Records By M. Huebinger, C.E. Davenport, Ia. 1894. Published By M. Huebinger & Co. M. Huebinger Fecit.,Text: Sketches of Scott County and Davenport, Iowa.. 1894. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, (Accessed May 15, 2024.)

Interestingly, we also found one of the most treasured artifacts in our collection, this Map of the City of Davenport and its Suburbs from 1857. This map shows the early growth of the City and its surrounding communities.

Hogane, James T. “Map of the city of Davenport and its suburbs, Scott County, Iowa.” Map. Iowa: s.n., 1857. Digital Commonwealth, (accessed May 14, 2024).

We discovered that other Iowa institutions have collections of Davenport materials like this postcard of the Suburban Island pavilion held at Grinnell College.

Pavilion, Suburban Island, Davenport, Iowa. 1910. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, (Accessed May 15, 2024.)

Created by the Huebinger Brothers the next two items offer early views of the City of Davenport, its buildings and structures, and details about its history and people. To learn more about the Huebingers, specifically Melchior Huebinger, we invite you to watch our Opening the Box program on YouTube.

This short note was written by our famed Alice French, pen name Octave Thanet, is found at the Boston Public Library. Alice was a well-known author in the latter part of the 19th and the early 20th century. It has made us curious to find other letters and materials relating to her in different libraries. We have another resource for those interested in learning about this figure of Davenport’s history which is our Research Guide on Alice French.

Thanet, Octave, and Thomas Wentworth Higginson. “Alice French (Octave Thanet) autograph note signed to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Davenport, Iowa, 12 October.” Manuscript. [ca. 1870–1911]. Digital Commonwealth, (accessed May 15, 2024).

Lastly, we found these two maps in the DPLA long list of results. The first is the 1950 map of the Enumeration Districts of the City of Davenport. As many of you may know, the 1950 census was released two years ago. So if you want to explore the resources relating to this census, click on the map below!

Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census. Office of the Associate Director for Decennial Census. Geography Division. (1/1987 – 7/15/2011). 1950 Census Enumeration District Maps – Iowa (IA) – Scott County – Davenport – ED 101-1 to 118. 1880-01-01/1990-12-31. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, (Accessed May 15, 2024.)

The second map and final item on this list is this unique-looking map created in 1957. It showcases the cities of Davenport and Bettendorf. It overlays images of each city on top of the respective areas that make up the municipalities.

Maporama. Davenport, Bettendorf / Maporama illustrated map enterprises. 1957. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, (Accessed May 15, 2024.)

We hope you have a delightful time exploring Davenport’s history and hope you go on an adventure to discover the past with this fantastic resource!

(posted by Kathryn)

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The Cyclone Events of May 9th and 19th, 1918

May 9, 1918 had been a dreary day in Scott County, Iowa. Earlier in the day rain and hail had covered the area. Finally, in late afternoon the skies began to clear and a rainbow appeared. In the small agricultural town of Eldridge, Scott County, Iowa, (population just over 200 at that time) those who lived in town were arriving settling down to dinner while those who lived on the numerous farms on the outskirts were finishing chores before their evening meal.

Witnesses in Eldridge would later say it was a large cloud that was passing overhead at about 6:30 p.m. that caught their attention. It quickly changed shaped as a portion of the cloud descended down in a swirling mass just north of town. As the winds began to roar, neighbors in town began to shout to each other that a cyclone* was heading their way and to take cover.

The Morning Democrat, June 9, 1957.

There was little warning for those on the northern outskirts of Eldridge. Those who could tried to shelter in cellars while others only had time to take cover in their homes or outbuildings. Many farms were in the direct path of the cyclone. By 7:00 p.m. the citizens of Eldridge on the southern edge of town called Davenport for help. The phone lines in the northern and central part of the town were down and those on the southern edge lasted just long enough for calls to be made.

The Davenport police department quickly gathered all the officers they could locate and phoned the hospitals for doctors and nurses. A caravan of cars raced towards Eldridge to assist. Local newspapers quickly picked up on the stories of those directly affected by the storm and printed them over the following days.

The Davenport Democrat, May 10, 1918. Pg. 1

Over twenty people suffered injuries. An estimated six houses in town were destroyed while two farms were considered total losses. Many more houses and farms suffered damage, but could be repaired.

Fred Bismark Rohlf, who worked for the Peter Schneckloth family, was outside when the cyclone hit. He grabbed onto the nearest tree which ultimately broke. Fortunately, the tree stump remained intact and Fred survived the storm.

The Daily Times, May 10, 1918. Pg. 1

Sixteen-year-old Emma Dammann had just returned home with her mother from town. Years later she would recount the event for the Morning Democrat on June 9, 1957. The pair couldn’t see the western sky as they entered the house and only realized a cyclone was coming when the roar of the wind could be heard. Mother and daughter had to go outside to get to the cellar doors, but the kitchen door refused to open with the wind pressure. Finally, the windows began to break and the door opened. Her mother went first and made it to the cellar doors.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, May 10, 1918. Pg. 13

Emma had stopped in the doorway when she was suddenly sucked out by the wind. She was carried/dragged for about 300 to 500 feet before landing in a pile of debris. Neighbors saw her being carried by the wind and rushed to dig her out when the storm passed. Emma was hospitalized with a broken collarbone, twisted knee, cuts, bruises, and knocked out teeth. Her shoes were torn apart and her dress was shredded. The nurses at the hospital spent days combing the tangles from her hair so it would not be cut off. Her mother was injured by flying pieces of wood, but both recovered.

dpl2016-13.008a. The north side of Eldridge after the cyclone on May 9, 1918.

The Peter Schneckloth family lost everything in the cyclone. Their home was directly in the cyclone’s path. Mr. Schneckloth suffered a scalp wound, Mrs. Schneckloth suffered bruising and sprained ankle, and 5-year-old Ella Schneckloth suffered a similar fate to Emma Dammann. She was pulled into the winds and thrown about 50 feet. She survived with a broken collarbone and cuts and bruises.

The John Priest farm also was hit by the cyclone. John Priest suffered serious cuts and bruises, but his wife was more severely hurt with a broken arm, broken ribs, and internal injuries. The couple had taken shelter in their cellar, but the house collapsed during the high winds sending timbers and wood down on the couple. Nothing was left of their house.

On the Peter Arp farm, Mr. Arp had just returned from the fields when the cyclone struck. He had been putting the horses in the barn when they became frightened by the roaring noise. The horses bolted and trampled Mrs. Helena Arp who was nearby. The elderly Mrs. Arp suffered a broken leg, dislocated shoulder, cuts, and internal injuries. A coat and papers from the Arp home were later found twelve miles away in LeClaire, Iowa.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, May 10, 1918. Pg. 13

The majority of other injuries were cuts and bruises caused by flying debris. Most did not require hospitalization.

It was estimated that the cyclone was about 900 feet wide and was on the ground for about six miles. Stories came out of a hen house being carried through the air and landing thirty feet away. The hen house remained intact and when inspected still had a hen sitting on a nest inside. An outbuilding was reported to have been picked up and carried over a house and then deposited on the other side. The most unusual occurrence may have been a 1500-pound horse that was in a field on the Dammann property. It was picked up and carried an estimated 1,000 feet and landed uninjured.

dpl2016-13.003a. On back is written” John Baker’s horse carried from Damann’s pasture to field east of town. Dario Wuestenberg, Eldridge, Iowa”.

By the next day, members of surrounding communities came to Eldridge to begin clearing away the debris and rebuilding. Those who lost their homes were welcomed into their neighbors’ while repairs were made. On farms, workers immediately began to rebuild barns and animal sheds before tackling houses. Damage was estimated at $200,000. With today’s inflation rates, that would be over 6 million dollars in 2024. Most families did not have insurance so funds were raised to help people rebuild.

dpl2016-13.004a. Lumber yard and Standard Oil.

Sadly, Mrs. Amelia Priest died from her injuries on May 13th. She was 59 years old and was buried in Fairview Cemetery in Park View, Scott County. Her husband, John, died on February 13, 1919 at the Scott County Poor Farm. He never fully recovered from his injuries.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader. May 14, 1918. Pg. 4

Sunday, May 19, 1918 proved similar weather to that of May 9th. The morning had begun with rain, but by lunchtime the skies were clearing. Bernhardt Hofsrud, his wife, and three children decided on an outing with their friends, the Brice Johnson family. The two families drove out to see the damage caused by the May 9th cyclone and then motored to nearby Crystal Lake to picnic.

As the two families enjoyed their lunch and fishing, they noted storm clouds gathering. They quickly loaded their cars and began the journey home with the Johnson family ahead of the Hofsrud vehicle. They were on the main road back to Eldridge when the storm began just north of the city. The Johnson vehicle turned off the tree lined road into a farm drive and ran into the nearby farmhouse for shelter.

Just as the Hofsrud vehicle entered into the stretch of tree line road a roaring sound was heard. Witnesses would later say there might have been more than one cyclone that day. All that is known is there was no time for the Hofsrud family to react before a large tree was pulled from the ground and crashed onto their car. Bernhardt Hofsrud was in the driver’s seat with his 18-year-old son Roy behind him. They both died from the impact. Mrs. Emma Hofsrud in the front passenger seat and her daughter in the back seat suffered injuries while another son fell off the rear seat on impact and survived unharmed.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader. May 20, 1918. Pg. 1

Bernhardt and Roy were buried next to each other in Oakdale Cemetery in Davenport. Emma Hofsrud would die on October 12, 1918. She recovered from her injuries, but newspapers reported she never overcame her grief at the loss of her husband and oldest son. Nine-year-old twins, Vincent and Vivian, would go to live with a relative in Chicago, Illinois after their mother’s death.

The Democrat and Leader, May 20, 1918. Pg. 3
The Democrat and Leader, May 20, 1918. Pg. 3

The May 19th cyclone(s) caused damage to farms, telephone lines, and Summit church near Eldridge, but the short length of time the cyclone(s) were on the ground reduced the damage compared to the May 9th cyclone event.

A final fourth death occurred on June 26, 1918 with the passing of Helena Arp, wife of Peter Arp, who was hurt during the cyclone when the horses trampled her in the farm yard. Mrs. Arp never recovered from her injuries and was buried in Pine Hill Cemetery in Davenport.

The Daily Times, June 27, 1918. Pg. 12

With donations from surrounding communities, Eldridge quickly rebuilt from both weather events. The only major building not rebuilt was an older vacant Presbyterian church on the north side of town that was destroyed on May 9th. Once the debris was cleared, the land sat empty until the town created Franklin Park.

dpl2016-13.006a. Remains of the Presbyterian Church.

The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections department is fortunate to have received a donation of photographs and postcards that provide evidence of this historic weather event of 1918.

(posted by Amy D.)

*Cyclone was the term used to describe the tornado of May 1918.

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The Karolyn Hall Luther Photograph Collection

April showers have been giving us a good soaking these last few days of the month — hopefully we will see no flooding along area waterways as a result. The waters of Davenport’s Duck Creek often jumped their banks in the past, and thanks to Karolyn Hall Luther, we have evidence of an instance in the late 1940s-early 1950s. Sometime during this period, Karolyn (and her husband Roy) photographed a summertime flood at her residence, the Davenport Motor Court trailer park at 3202 Harrison Street (close to the Creek). She saved her black and white snapshots in a scrapbook, the pages of which her family has kindly donated to the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center. We’ve recently digitized and uploaded the images in the Karolyn Hall Luther Photograph Collection (#2023-11) to the Upper Mississippi Valley Digital Image Archive (UMVDIA). A selection of these flood photographs is here:

We’ve identified some of the residents of the trailer court from the handwritten names on the images, but please let us know if you have any more information about these families or the location!

Karolyn’s scrapbook includes additional photographs of the trailer court in dryer times, the Davenport waterfront, other scenes in the city, and members of her family inside the Conservatory at Vander Veer Park. As she worked as a nurse at the Annie Wittenmyer/Iowa Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home in the early ’40s, there are also some photographs of the staff and children there.

We hope you enjoy this glimpse into the life of a Davenport couple in the 1940s!

(posted by Katie)

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In Memoriam: Mike Weir

Charles Michael “Mike” Weir was born December 8, 1947 in Ottumwa to Gerald and Catherine Roberts Weir. He was a 1966 graduate of Ottumwa High School. He married Janice Downing on December 31, 1970.

Mike Weir was hired on January 29, 1983 to be the Davenport Public Library’s Bookmobile Attendant and Driver. He first drove the retro 1973 Gerstenslager Transit (City Bus) Style bookmobile until it was retired in 1986.

Bookmobile #2 1973-1986

The Davenport Public Library’s next mobile library was the Moroney bookmobile Model BF260 which ran from July 1986 through December 2003.

Bookmobile #3 1986-2003

Both of these iconic library bookmobiles and their drivers/attendants were well known and cherished around the City of Davenport.

After The Library decided retire their bookmobile services, Mike stayed on and became a Senior Clerk in the Customer Service Department on July 1, 2004. He primarily worked at the Annie Wittenmyer Branch until it was closed in 2005, and then he worked at the Fairmount Library when it opened in 2006.

He retired in January 2013 after 30 years of working at the Davenport Public Library.

It is with sorrow, that our treasured bookmobile driver passed away on April 14, 2024 at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. We wish his family, his colleagues past and present, and any patrons who knew him well during this time.

Please enjoy these photos of Mike from his time spent at The Library!

(posted by Kathryn and Cristina)

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