We came across an interesting query from The Daily Times this week.
We aren’t sure if this falls into the category of ghost hunting. Unfortunately, we do not know if the Davenport reader received any replies. So far no update to this request has been found. We won’t give up the hunt on our end to find out if the gentleman ever rented or purchased a local haunted house.
We are lucky to have a collection of items relating to local Hispanic history currently on loan and on display at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center. The majority of the collection relates to the Cook’s Point neighborhood formerly located in Davenport’s west end. Items include newspaper clippings, a copy fo a report on housing and sanitary conditions at Cook’s Point, and a t-shirt worn and Cook’s Point reunions.
A straw hat, a sock, and a tin cup on the display help tell the history of workers of the onion fields in Bettendorf in the 1960s.
One of the display cases features a copy of a recipe published in the St. Alphonsus Chuch Cookbook in 1980, a medal from the Senior Olympics, a mug from LULAC Council #10, and newspaper clippings relating to the Terronez family.
Stop by to see this exhibit in person before Saturday, October 19th.
Scott County Farmer’s Institute was organized on February 13, 1896, in Eldridge, Iowa by a group of local men interested in supporting and disseminating “practical and Scientific knowledge pretaining [sic] to agriculture in all its various branches” to farmers in Scott County. The Institute was open to any farmer living in Scott County. In keeping with their constitution, the Institute planned at least one two-day institute each year where new farming knowledge and techniques were disseminated in the first months of the year, plus an annual meeting held on the first Saturday of October in Eldridge.
Farmer’s Institutes sprouted up across the agricultural belt to advocate, educate, and guide the efforts of the farmers.
We received this collection of Scott County Farmer’s Institute materials from the Scott County Library System. The collection dates from 1896-1957. It features meeting minutes, programs from their annual meetings, and accounting ledgers. We also have a few newspaper articles about their annual institute and other activities of the group. These materials demonstrate the importance of agricultural work in Scott County.
Throughout the years, the Institute offered many different opportunities to all Scott County residents who were interested in agriculture and its related branches. The topics consisted of dairy farming, stock farming, horses, poultry raising, and fruit and vegetable growing. But as the Institute progressed, the topics evolved to include discussing how to improve country schools and bee husbandry. Women and children were encouraged to take part in the educational and festivities at the institute and throughout the year. Women participated in contests in the culinary arts highlighting butter, bread, and cakes as well as crafts and fine arts such as embroidery and sewing. Children across the county participated in a spelling contest after being selected from the trials that were held in every township.
After many years of successful meetings and institutes, the Scott County Farmer’s Institute decided to dissolve in 1954. The Farmer’s Institute helped to shape the industry of agriculture, organizations like 4-H, and our state and county fairs. The legacy of this organization can be explored through these volumes.
We learn something new every day in Special Collections. This week’s fun discovery was the City of Davenport had a ship named after it in World War II and that ship inspired a local Pin-Up Girl contest here on the home front.
According to newspaper reports in July 1943, Davenport Mayor Ed Frick announced that a new navy ship would be named after our city. According to Frick, several local civic organizations, with the support of City Council, had written the Secretary of Navy asking a ship be named after Davenport.
The Navy listened and on December 8, 1943 the Mayor’s wife, Marea Frick, christened the ship the U.S.S. Davenport in the shipyard of the Leathem D. Smith Shipbuilding Co. in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Mayor Frick and a delegation from Davenport also attended the event. The city presented the ship with a gift of a combination radio and record player in the hopes it could be played over the ships’s communication system for all to enjoy.
The 303-foot frigate was expected to be used as an anti-submarine vessel assisting during ship convoys. It was finally ready for use by the Navy on June 1, 1944.
In August 1944, local newspapers announced the Retail Merchants Bureau of the Davenport Chamber of Commerce would be holding a Pin-Up Girl contest for Davenport ladies to be the official Pin-Up Girl of the U.S.S. Davenport.
Not only would the winner be the ship’s Pin-Up Girl, but she would also win the title of Miss Davenport and receive a $100 war bond.
The contest rules were very simple as listed below:
The photos would not be judged locally, but sent to the U.S.S. Davenport and judged by crewmen on the ship.
Throughout the contest, local newspapers would post the photos of women who were entering the competition.
By the deadline of September 14th, 43 unmarried women had entered the contest. The photos were sent on to be judged by the crewmen of the ship.
The Pin-Up Girl contest winner was announced on October 20, 1944. The crewmen selected Miss Dorothy Adams as their official U.S.S. Davenport Pin-Up Girl.
Miss Adams was a 21-year-old former Marycrest College student who lived with her parents at 1816 Middle Road. She was employed in the actuarial department of Modern Woodmen of American located across the Mississippi River in Rock Island, IL. Her brother, Allyn, was serving in the Navy overseas.
The crewmen on ship wrote to the Retail Merchants Bureau that they had appreciated the contest and asked for a large color photograph of Miss Adams to be sent to the them so it could be hung for the crewmen to see.
What ever happened to the U.S.S. Davenport or Dorothy Adams?
The frigate U.S.S. Davenport finished war time duties in 1945 and was quickly altered into a weather ship. By June 6, 1946 its service for the government was done and the ship was sold for scrap.
According to newspaper accounts, Dorothy Adams married Major George William Orr, a former Davenport resident, on July 27, 1946. After a candlelight wedding in the First Presbyterian Church in Davenport. The couple celebrated with friends and family in the Empire Room of the Hotel Blackhawk.
The couple planned to live near Selfridge Field, Michigan after the wedding where Major Orr was the Commander of a squadron connected to the 56th Fighter group with the Air Force.
We were excited to come across this wonderful piece of World War II home front history. And we hope Dorothy Adams Orr remained proud of being part of our local Davenport history.
(posted by Amy D.)
Wikipedia contributors. “USS Davenport (PF-69).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 20 Oct. 2017. Web. 27 Sep. 2019.
The Davenport Democrat and Leader, July 8, 1943. Pg. 12
The Daily Times, December 10, 1943. Pg. 19, 20
The Davenport Democrat and Leader, August 29, 1944. Pg. 14
At 6:00 pm on Saturday, September 19, 1891, The Davenport Gas Company flipped a switch to turn electric lights on for the first time in the city of Davenport.
Perceptions of electric light varied amongst the Davenport citizens. Many marveled at the beauty it brought to the dusk sky. Some residents found that the lights illuminated the city as never before witnessed with gas lighting: “[T]he city had the appearance last night of being dotted with diamonds of the most brilliant hue.”  Some were chagrined by how the lights altered their favorite spots in the city. Although a minority of residents were not fond of the electric lighting, their criticisms were eclipsed by the rejoicing masses.
A controversy arose on this triumphant day for electricity. Residents who continued to pay for gas services from the Davenport Gas Company would be required to do so at increased rates although the quality would remain the same. Unfortunately, at that time, gas quality was deemed poor.
Regardless of this, “‘All Hail the power of Electricity'” was the overriding sentiment. Electricity brought more than mere illumination to the city: a company with aspirations to provide high quality light services with the plans of installing the “finest, best and most expensive machinery that could be had for the purposes” was also introduced. 
Electricity services were provided by the Davenport Gas and Electric Company for a number of years. Competing companies on both banks of the Mississippi River began to emerge. Across the river, the Moline and Watertown Railway Company and the Peoples Power Company of Rock Island served their residents. People interacted with electricity in more ways than lights, they also rode on streetcars.
In 1907, the Peoples Light Company usurped the Davenport Gas and Electric Company’s spot as the primary electric company in Davenport. The latter, located at Third and Farnum Streets, has been operating since 1855 when George L. Davenport started the Davenport Gas-Light and Coke Company, formerly known as Charles Herrick & Company.
The Peoples Light Company doubled its capital in March of 1895. The board of directors included A.W. Vander Veer, Jens Lorenzen, J.S. Wylie, A. Burdick, George T. Baker, George W. Cable, and James F. Lardner. At this time, their offices were temporarily located in the Masonic Temple until the completion of a new building. Charles W. Young was selected to become the manager of the company. He had a list of accolades recommending him for the job, such as a graduation certificate from Rose Polytechnic school in Terre Haute, Indiana, and work experience at the Missouri Electric Light and Power Company of St. Louis. 
While the companies from the period merged, the cities along this stretch of the Mississippi River benefited from the electric light they provided. Gas lighting was a thing of the past.
(posted by Kathryn and Cristina)
 “Electricity On,” Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), Sept. 21, 1891.
 “The New Lights,” Davenport Democrat, Sept. 20, 1891.
 “Peoples Light Company,” Davenport Democrat, Mar. 22, 1895.
On this Friday the 13th with a Harvest Moon expected in the evening, it is easy to think of superstitions. One we thought about earlier today was the superstition of taller buildings retaining or removing the number thirteen associated with a floor or room number.
Would it be bad luck to live or work on the thirteenth floor? We admit most of us rarely even look when we get on an elevator of a taller building to see if there is a thirteenth floor to visit.
Not many buildings in Davenport would have had to worry about the thirteenth floor debate as most downtown structures are just shy of reaching a thirteenth floor in height.
One exception is the Davenport Bank & Trust Building at 201-209 W. 3rd Street. It most definitely goes beyond thirteen floors.
With a little research we discovered that the original architects apparently had no thirteenth floor phobia.
In a 1957 Daily Times article highlighting the use of the thirteenth floor of the building it was seen as anything but a curse.
Originally designed as a penthouse with an outdoor patio, the thirteenth floor in 1957 housed a lounge for female bank employees who worked in the bookkeeping and proof departments located on the 12th floor. Female bank employees who worked on the first and second floors had a separate lounge on the second floor.
The women were allowed use of a living room, restroom and shower, kitchen stocked with food they could prepare, and the outdoor patio.
It certainly does not sound like a scary situation at all!
Maybe next time we ride up an elevator in a building with a thirteenth floor we will take a moment to stop and get out to look around. With any luck, we may find a penthouse lounge like the one that used to be in the Davenport Bank & Trust building.
Edward Seymour Hammatt was born in Geneseo, Livingston County, New York on September 8, 1856, to Edward Rumney Hammatt and Eliza H. Phelps. He studied architecture at Lehigh University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After he completed his studies, he spent four years with leading architects from the firms of Ware & Van Brunt of New York and four years with H.J. Hardenberg & Napoleon LeBrum in Boston.
Upon arriving in Davenport in 1883 he opened an architectural office in the Whitaker Building which was built by John H. Whitaker.
E.S. Hammatt married Carrie Rathbone Barris, the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Willis H. Barris, on June 7, 1888.
He died on August 24, 1907, after an illness of four years which begun with a gradual onset of paralysis which was later termed, paralysis agitans. Throughout his 24 year career, he demonstrated artistic talent and “enthusiastic devotion to his profession”. His office remained in the Whitaker Building until ill health spurred him to close. Mr. Hammatt’s resilience against his illness was evident because even when he was no longer able to work at his office, he continued to direct his draughtsman from home. In the months prior to his passing, he had concluded plans for the Hotel Monte Colfax in Colfax, Iowa, the remodeling plans of Miss Alice French’s home, and considerable changes to the Putnam block (“E.S. Hammatt to take a Rest”, page 7).
E.S. Hammatt not only was a well-known architect in Iowa but also of the west. He has been recognized in many National Register of Historic Place records for the buildings he designed. His accomplishment extend farther than his creative works. He was an active member of many clubs and organizations that benefited from his dedication and unflagging service.
Clubs & Organizations
Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and a member of the Iowa chapter
Vestryman of Grace Cathedral
Member of Trinity Lodge, A.F.& A.M.
One of the organizers and always interested members of the Contemporary Club
Four years a member of the Irrawadi Canoe Club
A long and active member of the Davenport Outing Club
An indefatigable worker for the Academy of Sciences, on its publication committee, and for four years president of the Academy
He was many years secretary of the Sons of the Revolution of Iowa
Evidence of his prolific career can be found throughout the Quad Cities and the state of Iowa.
Examples Of His Work
Trinity Episcopal Church, Davenport (1874)
Episcopal churches in Creston, Mapleton, Washington, Oelwein, Boone, Algona, Ottumwa, Spencer, and other Iowa cities and towns
Kemper Hall, Griswold College, Davenport (1885)
St. Katherine’s classrooms and dormitory, Davenport (1885)
Connor House, 702 12th Street, Rock Island (1888)
Edward Edinger House, 1626 W 26th Street, Davenport (1890)
Lincoln School, 7th Avenue & 22nd Street, Rock Island (1893)
Old Main, Augustana College, Rock Island (1893)
Entrance gates at Oakdale Memorial Gardens, Davenport (1895)
Black Hawk Watch Tower [2nd] Inn (1897-1915)
(posted by Cristina and Kathryn)
“E.S. Hammatt’s Life And Work,” Davenport Democrat and Leader, August 25,1907, 8.
“E.S. Hammatt to take a Rest.” The Davenport Democrat and Leader, February 20, 1907, 7.
One hundred years ago this summer, Betty Adler was traveling through post-WWI Europe, sent by the Davenport Daily Times to “write special articles showing the effects of the war on the people of the allied countries” and “tell some of the hitherto unwritten stories of the things the women and children had to endure in the vicinity of the zones of actual fighting.” 
Miss Adler had moved to Davenport from Ottumwa and begun working as the society and woman’s editor for the Times in 1902, shortly after her brother, E.P. (Emanuel Philip) Adler, became its manager and publisher. Several years covering the city’s philanthropic women’s organizations and promoting her own social welfare causes via the paper’s “Glimmerings” column prepared her well to report with sympathy on the struggles of soldiers and average citizens during the war and in its aftermath.
Between June and September 1919, Adler witnessed the signing of the peace treaty at Versailles, thrilled to the victory parade marching through the streets of Paris, toured the Rhine Valley occupation zone with officers of the Third American Army, enjoyed a musical performance by the departing First Division of the A.E.F., lunched with Egyptian ambassadors, and met General Pershing in person, but she was also taking time to note the decimated French villages, the many “Refuge from Shells” signs marking cellars throughout the countryside, and the “…tired-eyed people, returned to the broken fragments of what had once been home…”  She listened to the stories of the boy who had lived in a cellar with his mother and four siblings for the entire duration of the war, the Flemish farm family robbed of their food and forced out of their cottage by German soldiers, the men of Lebbke shot and buried while still alive, and the massacre of civilians in Dinant, Belgium, including a man shot in front of his wife and and seven children.
Adler visited many battlefields and memorials to the soldiers who lost their lives in the fighting. She told of French soldiers buried alive by an explosion near Verdun, their guns still sticking up through the debris (p. 81), the remains of a German soldier –“just one leg encased in a riding boot” (p. 217) — in a shell hole near Ypres, among many other horrors. The “grave faces, reflecting memories” of the surviving doughboys still serving in France did not escape her notice. She described the grim work of the men assigned to the Graves Registration Service of the American Army, tasked with recovering the remains of the “hero dead,” (p. 23) and the Paris waiter who struggled to speak because his throat had been damaged by multiple gas attacks.
Adler praised the work of the American Red Cross and the Y.M.C.A and never failed to relay the gratitude expressed by the French and Belgian people for the aid received from the United States. She was suprised to find “plain, coarse, cotton flour sacks printed with mill names from the Mississippi to the Pacific, in glaring red and blue letters” kept as “treasured souvenirs” and placed on display in an Antwerp castle. (p. 243)
She paid special attention to women’s participation in the war effort, devoting ink to the story of Anne Ross, the Cherokee “canteen girl” with the A.E.F. in Germany, the work of the eighty women of C.A.R.D., the Committee Americaine pour Les Regions Devastees de la France (American Committee for Devastated France) in Vic-sur-Aisne, and the plucky English women of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry who drove wounded French soldiers to hospitals during the fighting and prisoners of war from Germany back to France after the armistice. (p. 239)
Betty Adler’s dispatches to the Times were collected and published in the following year as a book titled Within the Year After, available at the RSSC Center.
The work was well-received :
“Her grasp of international affairs, keen insight, aggressiveness, sagacity and human understanding found brilliant reflection in her observations set forth with a directness which permitted the reader to vision the epochal events of that period, and the conditions in Europe with a completeness that brought them into intimate touch with all that came to the notice of the writer.”
General Pershing sent Adler a letter of congratulations, which we are fortunate to hold in our manuscript collection:
For the greater part of her life, Betty Adler was an independent career woman, traveling freely, supporting causes, and living on her own at 409 E. 15th Street (after a few years with her brother and his wife at 629 E. 14th Street). She wrote short stories and other pieces, such as “The Tr-City Young Jewish Woman” in a special Iowa edition (Jews of Tri-Cities, December 14, 1912) of the Reform Advocate, a journal of Reform Judaism out of Chicago. That same publication included a profile of Miss Adler, and just following it, one of Henry Waterman, her future husband.
Betty Adler married Henry Waterman in Davenport on May 3, 1923. It was the first marriage for both; she was 48 and he 51. They lived together in Geneseo, IL, where Henry practiced law, for just under two short years — Betty succumbed to illness and passed away on February 16, 1925. She is buried in Mt. Nebo cemetery in Davenport.
(posted by Katie)
 Daily Times, (Davenport, Iowa), June 12, 1919, p.1.
 Adler, Betty. Within the Year After. Chicago: M.A. Donohue & Co., 1920, p. 21. Page numbers given hereafter within the above text refer to this title, a compilation of Adler’s dispatches and columns for the Times.
In the early 1920s, two daughters of Mr. and Mrs. James Apollinaris Skelley twirled onto the stage. Ann and Monica, the youngest of the Skelley family, delighted in dancing and performing for the local community. The Skelley family was not unaccustomed to finding members of their kin in the limelight. James Apollinaris, the chief electrician at the Rock Island Arsenal for 25 years, supported his children’s ambitions and artistic talents. One of his sons, Hal, performed in a Broadway show “Burlesque” with Barbara Stanwyck and starred in the movie version of “The Dance of Life.” He also traveled to Europe to pursue opportunities for his career. Hugh, another brother, was a well-known vaudeville performer and performed in a song-and-dance team with this wife, Emma Heit.
One of their first performances mentioned in Davenport newspapers was a prologue to “The Little Clown” in August of 1921. The Skelley girls performed this act with two other local girls and were not yet known by their moniker of “The Skelley Sisters.” Monica had a leading role as “Mary Miles Minter.”
The first week of 1922 Ann and Monica appeared in a prologue to Molly O at the Capital Theater. Molly O, a 1921 silent film featuring Mabel Normand, about a daughter of a working-class family who falls in love with an eligible bachelor. During his visit home before the show, Hal, their brother helped prepare them for the act. The young sisters were noted to be talented performers with “‘pep'” and natural talent for the stage even though they were still novices. They had flair for popular songs and dance like Hal.
Their propensity for dancing was highlighted again a few years later when they introduced a novel dance style known to be “the wildest of all modern dance.” This dance was known as The Charleston. The Skelley Sisters showcased this dance at the Fort Armstrong Theater in August of 1925. The Charleston was a sensation which swept across the stage and ballroom.
Throughout this time, the Skelley Sisters performed in New York at a two-day vaudeville showcase at Keith’s Palace Theater and multiple times on local stages. Their fame continued to be reported in Davenport newspapers.
The sisters continued to perform over the years adding to their repertoire. Dodie Lau Nieman joined her aunts’ song-and-dance team. Continuing in the family career, Monica Ann Smith and her sister, Mary Jean Woodward, performed as a reincarnation of their aunts as “The Skelly Sisters.” They performed throughout the Midwest.
The history of the Skelley Sisters lives on in the dance halls and theaters of the Quad Cities.
“Dancing Act to Feature at the Fort Armstrong.” Davenport Democrat and Leader, August 26, 1925.
“Skelly: Family carries on his show biz legacy.” Quad-City Times, September 5, 2000.