The Last Patrol of Officer Raymond Costigan

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Monday, October 18, 1920. Pg. 13

It was just past twelve-thirty in the morning on Sunday, October 17, 1920. Downtown Davenport was filled with people leaving the local fraternal organizations and dance halls. Fourth Street in front of the Col Ballroom was particularly busy as a dance attended by hundreds of people was ending.

Pedestrians crowded the sidewalk as they walked home, returned to their cars or wagons, or caught a seat on the crowded trolleys.

In the midst of the cheerful chaos, Davenport Police Officer Raymond Costigan was heading west down Fourth Street; returning to Beat No. 4 from his “lunch” break.

Officer Costigan was working the night shift from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. on foot patrol that ran from Marquette Street to Howell Street between West Davenport and the downtown district. Beat No. 4 was part of the 400 plus blocks of Davenport that had been divided into eleven sections by the police department. The entire area largely patrolled by officers on foot.

The police department operated with two twelve-hour shifts. Officers rotating monthly between day and night shifts. There was talk of moving to an eight-hour day with three shifts, but those were still ideas for officials to talk about.

It was a long walk back to Beat No. 4 from the downtown district. Most nights, a police officer would be able to hop on a passing trolley and ride for free back to their respective beat. But that was only allowed if the trolleys were not filled to capacity. This night, with crowds filling the streets, Costigan and other officers would have to walk back to their assigned areas.

It is on this long walk back that Costigan ran into a friend, Walter Petersen. Petersen, with a new Empire Sport model automobile, offered Costigan and two other acquaintances a ride. As the men walked west on Fourth Street; they had no idea Raymond Costigan only had a few more hours to live.

Raymond E. Costigan was born July 13, 1895, in Davenport, Scott County, Iowa to John and Sadie (Powers) Costigan. A sister, Ella, was born in 1903. His father, John, was a fireman for the Davenport Fire Department and moved up the ranks to Assistant Chief.

Costigan attended St. Mary’s parochial school, Davenport High School, and was involved in the early days of independent football teams as both a manager and football player. After leaving school, Ray worked at the Rock Island Arsenal and continued playing/managing local teams.

Shortly before his twenty-second birthday, the United States entered World War I. Ray’s draft card from June 5, 1917, lists him as a single man employed at the Arsenal. His physical description is of a tall man of medium build with light brown hair and blue eyes.

On August 3, 1917, local newspapers released the names of the first men picked in the national draft. Costigan’s name was on the list of those to report before the Scott County exemption board to pass physical and mental exams to enter the United States Army.

On August 22, 1917, Raymond married Marie C. Quinn of Davenport. Their wedding at St. Mary’s Catholic Church was featured in the newspapers along with the announcement of their two-week honeymoon near Chicago and the lake area.

Raymond Costigan reported to the Scott County War board offices on September 19, 1917, and left the following day on the 12:30 p.m. train to Des Moines, Iowa, and Fort Dodge. Originally assigned to a machine gun division; Costigan was quickly reassigned to the 351st Infantry Ordnance Detachment which was part of the 88th Infantry Division.

On May 15, 1918 while stationed at Fort Dodge, Raymond became a father with the birth of his daughter Mary Rita Costigan. On August 15, 1918, he shipped out to France on the SS Saxon. Around September 1, 1918, Costigan’s unit was in Cherbourg, France, and making their way to “No Man’s Land” at the Haute-Alsace front.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, September 2, 1918. Pg. 3.

Along the way, the unit faced their first real test when they held off a German raid at Schnoholz Woods. They soon arrived at the front to be faced with barbed wire, flooded and collapsed trenches, Influenza, gas attacks, and bombings. While the 351st did lose men in battle and sickness, they were proud that they did not lose a single man to gas attacks. They had trained extensively in putting on masks before arriving at the front and that training paid off.

With the November 11, 1918 Armistice, the 351st was moved around France as needed before sailing for home on May 20, 1919, aboard the U.S.S. Mercury. Back in Des Moines, Iowa, and Camp Dodge in early June, the infantry was met with a large parade and on June 6th the men were officially mustered out of the Army and Raymond Costigan was free to return home and return to civilian life.

We next learn about Costigan when on October 7, 1919, The Davenport Democrat and Leader announced he and Joe LaGrange passed the semi-annual police examination. On March 8, 1920, the Costigan’s welcomed a son, John Joseph, into the family. Costigan was then appointed to the Davenport Police Department on April 5, 1920.

Acc. # 1990-04 Police Roll Call Register, January 1918 – August 1924.

April of 1920 was a month of change within the Davenport Police Department. Chief Packey Phelan asked to be moved back into the ranks of officers. Mayor Barewald appointed a long-time officer, Charles Boettcher, to the position. Boettcher had previously been Chief of Police from 1916 – 1918.

Chief Boettcher stated in newspaper articles that he wanted to increase department efficiency and increase enforcement of traffic regulations. He also moved officers to new patrols with Raymond Costigan moving from the No. 11 “Sawdust” beat along East River Street to patrol the No. 7 Northwest section of Davenport.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader on May 17, 1920, printed an article about Chief Boettcher moving long-time officer Walter Wiese to Costigan’s Northwest Davenport patrol while Costigan was being moved to Wiese’s former spot on the No. 4 beat from Marquette to Howell Streets. This move was in response to Costigan’s good work since joining the department stated the Chief.

From studying newspaper articles, the outer patrols were usually assigned to newer officers or officers needing improvement. The downtown patrols were for officers considered to be excelling at their job. Any movement closer to downtown beats would have been considered a sign that your work was regarded well. For an officer barely two months on the job it would most likely have been seen as approval on job performance.

By 1920, the Davenport Police Department still patrolled mainly on foot. Their transportation was a mix of horses and wagons, a handful of older cars, and a few motorcycles that patrolled during the day. The war had prevented many cities from fully changing from animal power to automobiles.

Officer Costigan remained on the No. 4 patrol through the summer and into the autumn months. Never taking a sick day, an unexcused absence, or suspended from duty according to the Police Roll Call Ledger covering April – October 1920.

Our knowledge of what took place on October 17, 1920, has been gathered from local newspaper articles and transcripts of the inquest that followed.

While returning to his beat from his “lunch” break, Officer Costigan met Walter Petersen and accepted a ride from his old friend. Costigan was on foot and the trolley cars were filled at the time. Costigan asked Petersen to wait a moment as he needed to step inside the Coliseum Ballroom to speak to the officers on duty. The Coliseum being just outside his patrol area.

As Costigan headed towards the Coliseum, Petersen ran into two other men and he offered rides to them. Ed Richter and Art Swindle joined Petersen at his car. Petersen getting into the driver’s seat with Richter and Swindle getting in the back seat. The front passenger seat saved for Raymond Costigan.

Inside the Coliseum, Costigan spoke with Officers William Ruhl and George Rogers who had been covering the event during their off-duty hours. Costigan spoke briefly with Rogers and said he had been at his meal and was returning to his beat. Costigan was asking how everything had been going that night and if there was anything to be aware of. Both Officers said Costigan was there for a short period of time (under 15 minutes) and left when Walter Petersen stopped for him.

Ed Richter testified in the inquest that Costigan said something to Petersen as he got into the car about “burning up the road” and “license”. Richter was talking to Art Swindell at the time and did not catch the full conversation. His assumption was Costigan had seen a speeding vehicle as he got into the car and wanted to follow it to catch the license plate number under an electric light farther up the road.

This strikes us as unusual today to have a police officer ask a civilian driver to follow a speeding car, but this was a normal practice in the early twentieth century. Most police departments found themselves without the vehicles to follow speeding cars and respond to incidents. Searching through newspapers, we located several articles from the late-nineteenth century into the 1920s in which Davenport (and other local police departments) used civilian wagons, carriages, and automobiles to follow speeding vehicles or reach accident or crime scenes.

According to Swindell and Richter, Petersen started the car and began driving west on Fourth Street. Less than half a block later they were at the intersection of Fourth and Marquette Streets. Richter said they entered the intersection and he suddenly saw headlights of an oncoming car heading south on Marquette. He said he braced for the impact and felt Petersen swerve to try to avoid the car. Swindell, who was on the right rear passenger side was turned to talk to Richter and had his back to the approaching car.

The car coming towards them was an older Velie auto both larger and heavier than the Empire Sport driven by Petersen. Stephen Giles was driving the borrowed vehicle. Mae Helgerman was sitting beside him while Arthur Bivans and Minnie Porske were in the rear passenger seats. The top was down as they drove from the Northwest Turner Hall down Marquette Street. They planned to turn on Third Street and drive down to the Rock Island Arsenal Bridge to return to their respective homes in Rock Island and Moline.

Raymond Costigan, Walter Petersen, Art Swindell, and Ed Richter were all thrown from their car on impact. Swindell and Richter sustained minor injuries, but Costigan and Petersen were both seriously hurt. Costigan was unconscious.

The Velie tipped to its right side with Bivans and Porske jumping out of the car as it went over and Giles and Helgerman being able to remove themselves after. Only minor injuries were sustained. The worse being a sprained wrist.

Immediately after the accident, neighbors ran from their houses to help the injured. A passing taxi stopped and picked up the unconscious Costigan. Officers Ruhl and Rogers both heard the accident and responded quickly. Ruhl going with Costigan to Mercy Hospital and Rogers attending those at the accident.

Giles and Bivans were both arrested at the scene. This was normal procedure for accidents involving out of town drivers. Rogers also stated both men were uncooperative in assisting those hurt and cursing at the scene.

Raymond Costigan was taken to Mercy Hospital shortly after 1:00 a.m. He never regained consciousness. Dr. E. C. Ficke attended him and soon realized Costigan was dying.

Officer Raymond E. Costigan died at 5:00 a.m.

Acc. # 1990-04 Police Roll Call Register, January 1918 – August 1924.

An autopsy showed only minor cuts and bruises on his outward appearance. The right side of his skull was fractured in two places and a blood clot the size of an orange found on the left side of his brain.

Walter Petersen was unconscious for a period of time. He was found to have a broken collarbone, two broken ribs, and a sprained back/hip. When he was first admitted to Mercy Hospital it was not known if he would live or die.

The evening of October 18, 1920, an inquest was held into the accident and death of Officer Raymond Costigan. Except for Costigan and Petersen (who was in the hospital and unable to speak according to the inquest notes), the other driver and passengers were questioned along with Officers Ruhl and Rogers, Dr. Lamb who performed the autopsy, Dr. Ficke who attended Costigan, and John Martens who lived near the accident scene and had seen the vehicles afterward.

During the inquest, occupants of both cars said their respective drivers were not speeding. The intersection of Fourth and Marquette Streets was known for its blind intersection, no stop signs, and lack of lighting at night.

The question came down to the right of way in an intersection. Officer Ruhl was a traffic officer for the police department. When asked about the right of way at an intersection, Ruhl replied that according to the State of Iowa the car to the right has the right of way (a law that took place in January 1920). Ruhl was not able to respond when asked who has the right of way when one car was already in the intersection. The laws were not clear on that.

The end result was, based on the inquest, a fatal accident with no one at blame.

It appears as though Petersen’s Empire Sport auto had entered the intersection as Giles’ Velie approached. Neither car could see the other until the Empire Sport was in the intersection. Both the Assistant Scott County Attorney and the Coroner visited the accident scene later that day with the cars still in place.

They decided by the condition of the cars that the Velie driven by Giles had struck a blow to the right rear side of the Empire Sport driven by Petersen. The Velie had only slight damage to its fenders and the left front wheel spokes were broken. The Empire Sport had severe damage with broken fenders, a gash in the right side where struck, damage to the right rear tire spokes, and the top and windshield had broken away as if the car was flipped.

While the conclusion of the inquest may seem surprising to us; traffic laws were only just being created officially. Animal pulled transportation competed with automobiles and motorcycles on the roads. In a smaller town like Davenport, stop signs were few in 1920. During the day, police officers directed traffic at busy intersections. At night there was no supervision and few rules.

We also researched the intersection of Fourth and Marquette Streets to see if other accidents had occurred there. Between 1919 and 1921 we found many accidents involving automobiles hitting other automobiles, trolleys, wagons, and pedestrians. The blame always the same. It was a blind intersection with buildings blocking the line of vision until it was too late.

On October 19, 1920, Davenport Police Officer Raymond Costigan was laid to rest at St. Marguerite’s Cemetery (now Mt. Calvary Cemetery) in Davenport. Both the American Legion and Davenport Police Department escorted the body from a crowded St. Mary’s church to the cemetery. The Davenport Police Department and the community mourned the up and coming officer and the station was draped in black bunting.

Officer Costigan left behind his wife Marie, daughter Mary Rita, and son John Joseph along with his parents and sister, Ella.

His co-workers at the Davenport Police Department requested and were given permission to hold a benefit dance for his widow and children. $1,689.10 was raised for his family at the December 1, 1920 event.

The response to the benefit held was so great within the community that the benefit committee had to rent the Coliseum for the event. The largest dance hall in the city.

And also, by tragic coincidence, the last spot Raymond Costigan was seen alive before the accident on October 17th.

Grave of Raymond E. Costigan. Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Davenport, Iowa. Photo by Amy D.


  • 88th Division – 351st Infantry – Historical Notes 1917 – 1919. C. F. Brantner, Published 1919.
  • The 88th Division. Iowa in the Great War 1914 – 1919. Transcribed by Sharon R. Becker.
  • The Rock Island Argus, August 22, 1917. Pg. 8.
  • The Davenport Democrat & Leader, September 2, 1918. Pg. 3.
  • The Davenport Democrat & Leader, April 6, 1919. Pg. 34.
  • The Daily Times, June 6, 1919. Pg. 1.
  • The Davenport Democrat & Leader, October 7, 1919. Pg. 10.
  • The Daily Times, April 27, 1920. Pg. 8.
  • The Davenport Democrat & Leader, May 17, 1920. Pg. 11.
  • The Davenport Democrat & Leader, October 17, 1920. Pg. 1.
  • Moline Dispatch, October 18, 1920. Pg. 4.
  • The Daily Times, October 18, 1920. Pg. 1.
  • The Davenport Democrat & Leader, October 18, 1920. Pg. 12.
  • The Daily Times, October 19, 1920. Pg. 9.
  • The Davenport Democrat & Leader, October 19, 1920. Pg. 14.
  • The Daily Time, October 19, 1920. Pg. 8.
  • The Davenport Democrat & Leader, October 19, 1920. Pg. 3.
  • The Daily Times, October 27, 1920. Pg. 8
  • The Davenport Democrat & Leader, December 13, 1920. Pg. 7.

(posted by Amy D. )

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Latinx History in the QCA

Although National Hispanic Heritage Month 2020 (Sept. 15th-Oct. 15th) winds down this week, the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center invites you to explore the lives of Hispanic Americans in our local area at any time with our brand-new research guide, “Latinx History in the Quad-Cities.” Launch your own investigation into the Mexican-American communities that formed in Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa and Silvis, Illinois from this convenient gathering of primary and secondary sources available at the Center, the Davenport Public Library/other RiverShare Libraries, and online.

Here’s a sampling of some of the materials at the RSSC Center featured in the guide:

Iowa Stories 2000 Oral History Project: Mexican Americans – Acc.#2005-02

Cook’s Point Reunion Exhibit Materials – Acc.#2016-12

Cook’s Point Images – Acc.#2016-39

¡Hola! America: English/Spanish newspaper (2001-2012)

Interested in finding out more about your Hispanic ancestors, local or otherwise? The Latinx History guide links to “Hispanic Genealogy Research,” another new RSSC Center guide. Here you’ll find a list of books, websites, and other sources helpful for tracing family history to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, Latin America, Spain and Portugal. The latest addition to our periodical collection is the Genealogical Society of Hispanic America’s journal Nuestras Raíces = Our Roots:

In addition to the sources listed in these guides, we have a collection of local newspapers on microfilm and access to genealogy databases such as AncestryLibrary (available remotely to DPL cardholders through Dec. 31st), Fold3, and HeritageQuest.

Write or call for an appointment to view the RSSC Center’s resources on this topic or for assistance with your research! 563-326-7902

(posted by Katie)

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Stiamo festeggiando Italian-American Heritage Month!*

In celebration of the Italian-American Heritage Month, The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center would like to highlight materials relating to Italians and Italian genealogy.

In our collection, we hold an array of materials documenting the Italian population in Scott County. One collection documents immigrants becoming citizens of the United States.

The Scott County Naturalization records contains federal immigration records released from Iowa District Court of Scott County which include declarations of intent, petitions, affidavits of witnesses, correspondence, indexes. These records date from 1868 to 1929. Below we will feature some Italian immigrant stories.

Antonio D’Eramo

Antonio D’Eramo was born in Bugnara, Italy on April 8, 1887. He married Neva DiTommaso in Bugnara in 1920. Antonio came to Davenport in 1920 two years before his wife Neva and his daughter Lena. His declaration to become a citizen was made on December 6, 1921, and his petition signed on November 20, 1926. Neva became a citizen in 1942. He worked as a foreman steelworker for the International Harvester Company until 1947. He was also worked for the Bettendorf Company.

His daughter, Lena, married Frank J. Tomei of Davenport in 1947. In 1961, Antonio and his wife moved to Mesa, Arizona. He passed away on August 14, 1974 in Mesa, Arizona at the age of 87.

Giovanni Petruccelli

Giovanni (John) Petruccelli was born in Italy on November 22, 1888, to Donato and Maria Theresa (Calvella) Petruccelli. His last residence in Italy before migrating was Viggiana, Italy. In the naturalization documents below, his declaration was made on June 21, 1921, and his petition signed on December 16, 1926. He was married to his first wife, Marguerite (Margaret) Tronzo from 1925 to 1931. They had four children, Mrs. Mary Mason (husband Russell), Donato Angelo Francisco (Dan), Domenico J. Petro, Vincenzo J. On August 4, 1937, Giovianni married Josephine Elizabeth McKee. He and his two brothers, Vincenzo and Domenico, “established the Bay State Shoe Repair in the 200 block on Harrison Street and in 1948, the shop was moved to the 300 block on West Third Street” in Davenport (“Vincenzo” 5).

A interesting fact is that Giovanni was the uncle to Donato A. (Don) Petruccelli, who was Davenport Mayor from 1957-1961.

Santi Caturegli

Santi Caturegli was born in Pisa, Italy on May 18, 1881, to John and Alice (Vanniccia) Caturegli. He married Teresa Simonetti (or Scimanetti) in Pisa in 1903. They arrived in the United States through New York’s Ellis Island on June 10, 1907. Santi and Teresa had three children, two daughters, Mrs. Mary Meyer (husband Ervin) and Mrs. Laura Dean (Virgil) and one son, Hugo G. Caturegli. He worked at the Bettendorf Company and was a member of the Davenport Moose Lodge. Santi passed away on October 17, 1962.

The records below detail his naturalization to become a United States Citizen. His declaration was made on August 18, 1924, and his petition signed on December 15, 1926.

Another resource where we find information about Italian-Americans is the United States Census records. They will list the names of family members, their age, where they were born, where their parents were born, what languages they speak, and their occupation. This resource, like the city directories, is helpful for tracing ancestors.

Lastly, in our book collection, there are books about Italian genealogy and history. Here is a bibliography of Italian books in Special Collections.

Brockman, Terra, 1958-. A student’s guide to Italian American genealogy. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press, 1996.
Call Number: SC 929.1089 BROCK TER
Burke, Carol Nutile, 1929-. The Nutile/DeMartino family of New Haven & North Haven, Connecticut, U.S.A.: some ancestors and descendants, 1795-2000. Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, 2004.
Call Number: SC 929.2 Nut
Carmack, Sharon DeBartolo, 1956-. Italian-American family history: a guide to researching and writing about your heritage. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., c1997.
Call Number: SC 929.1 Car
Cole, Trafford R. (Trafford Robertson), 1951-. Italian genealogical records: how to use Italian civil, ecclesiastical & other records in family history research. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry, c1995.
Call Number: SC 945 COL
Colletta, John Philip, 1949-. Finding Italian roots: the complete guide for Americans. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical, c1993.
Call Number: SC 945 Col
Konrad, J. cn. Italian family research. Munroe Falls, Ohio: Summit Publications, c1990.
Call Number: SC 945 Kon
Melnyk, Marcia Yannizze, 1951- author. Tracing your Italian ancestors.
Call Number: SC 929.1072 MELNY MAR
Yans-McLaughlin, Virginia, 1943- cn. Family and community: Italian immigrants in Buffalo, 1880-1930. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982, c1977.
Call Number: SC 974.797 Yan

These records provide a glimpse into lives of Italian-Americans. We hope you enjoy researching our collections! Happy Italian-American Heritage Month! Ciao!

Stiamo festeggiando means we are celebrating in Italian.


“Vincenzo Petruccelli, Mayor’s Father, Dies”. Morning Democrat. Davenport, Iowa: October 29, 1958, page 5.

(posted by Kathryn)

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Historic Places: “Riverview”

This month Gilda’s Club of the Quad Cities, the non-profit Cancer Support Community, announced they were moving out of the iconic mansion at 1234 East River Drive and would be relocating and expanding to 2 locations: Genesis West Campus in Davenport and Unity Point – Trinity Moline.

Let’s take a look at the history of this 150-year-old building and the families that have called it home.

Abner & Mary Emma Davison, 1852-1909

Abner Davison was born on January 3, 1820, in Oswego Co., NY to Chester and Lorena Davison. He attended Fredonia Academy and graduated from Union College in Schenectady, NY in 1845. He moved to Davenport in 1852. He became one of the leading lawyers in Davenport, first with the firm of Davison & True (1854-1873) and later with Davison & Lane (1874-1900). Abner’s son Charles and James’s son Joe continued the law firm after their respective parents’ deaths, and the firm continues to this day as Lane & Waterman.

Abner Davison married his cousin Mary Emma Davison in January 1854 in Davenport. The couple had seven children: Ella, Charles, Alice, Frances (Mrs. C.A.) Ficke, William, Mary (Mrs. F.J.) Waltz, and Jessie (Mrs. W.R.) Weir.

Mary Emma Davison was born on February 28, 1835, in Cooperstown, N.Y. She died in Pasadena, California on February 28, 1909. Abner Davison died at his home on May 17, 1900.

The Davison home was built in the mid-1850s on Cottage Avenue (street name changed to Front Street in 1867, and River Drive in 1934) between Bridge & College Avenues in A.C. Fulton’s Addition to East Davenport and was platted as “Riverview.” It was originally a 2 story Tuscan Italiante style house made of brick with hipped-roof, tall narrow windows, a main entrance porch with fluted Doric columns and pilasters, and an ornate Victorian Gazebo near the southwest corner.

Davenport Democratic Banner, August 20, 1852
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1892
Davenport Democrat and Leader, October 25, 1909

Charles H. & Mary Gilchrist Crowe, 1910-1933

Charles Henry Crowe was born in Peterboro, Ontario, Canada on July 15, 1873, to Charles and Margaret Jane (Hall) Crowe. He married Miss Mary Gilchrist on October 15, 1908, in Davenport.

Mary Gilchrist Crowe was born in Rapids City, Illinois on March 13, 1881, to John W. and Caroline Gilchrist. The family moved to Davenport in 1900 and Mary attended St. Katharine’s school and the University of Illinois.

Mary died on November 19, 1933, at the family home. After his wife’s death, Charles lived with his brother-in-law, Charles Gilchrist at 812 Bridge Avenue. Charles H. Crowe died in Sacramento, California on November 30, 1937.

Mr. Crowe was a member of the Davenport Zoning Board and Commission, former president of the Rotary Club, was active in the Sunshine Club, Davenport Lodge No. 208, A.F. and A.M., Zarephath Consistory, and Kaaba Temple, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. Mrs. Crowe was a member of the Chi Omega sorority of the University of Illinois, the Davenport Garden Club, and the Tuesday Club.

The couple came back to Davenport in 1910 when Charles took a job as secretary of his father-in-law’s company, the Alden Coal Co. He purchased the Davison home, which was next door to his in-laws on East River Drive. During this time the home underwent a major renovation of the original rear wing, the addition of a west wing, prairie style windows, and gray stuccoed exterior.

Davenport Democrat and Leader, September 2, 1912
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1910-1950
Mary Gilchrist Crowe portrait by J.B. Hostetler, ca. 1910
City of Davenport Iowa Building Permits

C. Arthur Ruhl, 1934-1953

Mary Gilchrist Crowe’s sister and brother-in-law, Caroline “Midge” Gilchrist and Charles Arthur Ruhl moved into the home in 1934.

Charles Arthur Ruhl was born March 15, 1897, in Davenport to Mr. and Mrs. John Ruhl. He served as a 1st Lieutenant in Battery B 185th Field Artillery and served in the Mexican border in 1915-1916 and in the United States Army during WWI. In 1920 he became affiliated with the firm of Ruhl & Ruhl. He married Caroline “Midge” Gilchrist on January 25, 1924, in Davenport. The couple had 3 children: John G., Charles A., and Mary Challed.

Caroline “Midge” Gilchrist was born in Gilchrist, Ilinois to Mr. and Mrs. John W. Gilchrist. She graduated from St. Katharine’s school and attended National Domestic Arts and Sciences School in Washington, D.C. She died on November 13, 1973.

Mr. Ruhl was a senior member and president of the Blackhawk-Perry Corp, vice president of the First National Bank Corp., past president of the Davenport Association of Insurance Agents, past president of the Iowa Insurance Agents Association, a charter member of the Davenport Country Club, the Town Club, Davenport Club, 40 and 8, American Legion Post No. 26, the 720 Club, and the Outing Club. He died on January 21, 1959.

Caroline “Midge” Gilchrist Ruhl portrait by J.B. Hostetler, ca. 1917
The Daily Times, January 10, 1933
1940 Federal Census
City of Davenport Iowa Building Permits
The Daily Times, January 22, 1959

Don S. Challed, 1960-1972

Caroline Gilchrist and C. Arthur Ruhl’s daughter and son-in-law, Mary Ann Ruhl and Don Challed, moved into the home in 1960.

Don Challed was born on May 25, 1932, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Dr. Don and Olga Miller Challed. He attended McKinley High School in Cedar Rapids, Carleton and Coe Colleges, and the School of Business at Northwestern University. He began working for Ruhl & Ruhl Insurance in 1957 and retired in 1995 as past president and chairman of Ruhl & Ruhl Incorporated.

Don was married to Mary Ann Ruhl on October 29, 1955, at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. The couple had 4 daughters: Catherine Ann McPeek, Caroline Anne Fix, Anne Marie Saveraid, and Elizabeth Mary Polaschek.

Mr. Challed was a charter life underwriter, past president of the Davenport Association of Insurance Agents, regional chairman of the Hartford Insurance Group, regional chairman of Continental Insurance Companies, past president of Rotary International Davenport Noon Rotary Club, Davenport Chamber of Commerce, Davenport Club, the Outing Club, Rod & Gun Club, Visiting Nurses Association of Davenport, Crow Valley Golf Club, and served on the vestry and as senior warden for Trinity Cathedral.

The Daily Times, October 29, 1955
City of Davenport Iowa Building Permits

David Cole, 1973-1979

The 1973-1979 Davenport City Directories list David Cole at 1234 East River Drive. All we’ve been able to find on David C. Cole is this photograph and a classified ad for a 1972 Ford Gran Torino that ran in the Quad-City Times from 1976-1979.

Quad-City Times, March 14, 1973


In the early 1980s, the house was advertised for rent by Ruhl & Ruhl. Names listed in the Davenport City Directories at this address during this time include Robert Q. DiVita, John D. Reynolds, William A. Knott, Louis L. Gunthorp, and Brenda L. Traylor.

Quad-City Times, June 25, 1984

River Oaks Inn B & B, 1987-1997

William & Suzanne Pohl and Ronald & Mary Jo Pohl purchased the home in 1986 and turned it into Davenport’s first Bed & Breakfast, River Oaks Inn. They also refurbished the carriage house behind the home into an auxiliary Bed & Breakfast.

William Frank Pohl was born July 29, 1943, in Davenport to Ernest Francis Pohl and Mary Marie (Farris) Pohl. He graduated from Assumption High School in 1961 and received a teaching degree from the University of Iowa. Bill married Suzanne A. Dessert on July 12, 1975, in Davenport.

Mr. Pohl taught at Monroe School in Davenport. He was an Air Force Veteran and Peace Corp volunteer stationed in Colombia. Mr. Pohl died on September 1, 2003.

Quad-CIty Times, March 4, 1986
Quad-City Times, August 3, 1986
Quad-City Times, February 7, 1991

Gilda’s Club, 1998-2020

On August 15, 1997, Ron & Mary Jo Pohl deeded the property to Gilda’s Club of the Quad Cities. Named in honor of comedienne Gilda Radner who died of ovarian cancer in 1989, the first Gilda’s Club opened in New York City in 1995.

Gilda’s Club of the Quad-Cities provides emotional and social support for people living with cancer, their families, and friends. They offer various support groups, lectures, art therapy, and social gatherings. In 2003 they added space just for kids called “Noogieland”. All of these services are offered free of charge.

Ephemera – Organizations – Gilda’s Club [2003]

(posted by Cristina)

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Mayflower Families: John Alden

2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony. Commemorative publications, programs, and tours are planned in the US, the UK, and the Netherlands by various organizations, including the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and Plymouth 400, Inc.

In preparation for the festivities, we will be blogging about our resources for different Mayflower families throughout the year. This month we’ll explore the family of the last surviving signer of the Mayflower Compact, John Alden! 

John Alden was born ca. 1599 in Harwich, Essex, England. He was hired to be a barrel maker (cooper) for the Mayflower.

Alden married Priscilla Mullins in 1622/23 at Plymouth. The Courtship of Miles Standish by Alden’s descendant Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, tells the tale of the love triangle between John Alden, Priscilla Mullins, and Myles Standish.

John Alden held many offices in the colony including Assistant to the Governor, Deputy to the Plymouth Court, Colony Treasurer, served in the committee to revise laws and the committee on Kennebec trade, and he was one of the founders of the town of Duxbury.

His home in Duxbury, built in 1653, is now a museum. The foundations of the first Alden home, built in 1627, are on this site.

John Alden died on September 12, 1687, in Duxbury at the age of 89.

The first generation of Henry Samson descendants:

  1. Elizabeth, born ca. 1624, married William Pabodie in December 1644 in Plymouth.
  2. John, born ca. 1626, married Elizabeth Phillips Everill on April 1, 1660, in Boston.
  3. Joseph, born ca. 1627, married Mary Simonson ca. 1660.
  4. Priscilla, born ca. 1630, unmarried.
  5. Jonathan, born ca. 1632, married Abigail Hallett on December 10, 1672, in Duxbury. 
  6. Sarah, born ca. 1634, married Alexander Standish ca. 166. 
  7. Ruth, born ca. 1636, married John Bass on February 3, 1857/8 in Braintree.
  8. Mary, born ca. 1638, unmarried.
  9. Rebecca, born ca.1640, married Thomas Delano ca. 1667.
  10. David, born ca. 1642, married Mary Southworth ca. 1674.

Want to learn more about John Alden’s descendants? Stop by the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center and browse through the 5 parts of volume 15 of Mayflower Families through five generations (SC 929.2 May)


(posted by Cristina)

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Davenport’s Branch of The National Association of Letter Carriers Union

Current attention to the fate of the U.S. Postal Service and the arrival of Labor Day weekend 2020 gives us the perfect opportunity to share the experiences of Davenporters Edward and Margaret Gilbert in the Iowa State Association of the National Association of Letter Carriers and its auxiliary.

Edward Alvin Gilbert was a mail carrier in Davenport for thirty years, from his return from service in World War II to his death in 1974. He was a member of the NALC local, Branch 506. His wife Margaret (nee Schaeden), a sales clerk at the Petersen Harned Von Maur department store, belonged to the Auxiliary No. 129. The couple lived at 3105 W. Lombard St., where Mrs. Gilbert often hosted auxiliary meetings in the 1960s. She was installed as the financial secretary of that body in January 1965 and the treasurer in February 1968.

The materials in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center’s collection #2017-27 document the Gilberts’ participation as delegates to the annual NALC state conventions and various social events connected with the union and its auxiliary in the 1960s.

The items in the collection were likely gathered and saved by Margaret Gilbert. These are some of her mementos of the 1965 state convention in Sioux City, Iowa …

… including her record-keeping as financial secretary for the Davenport Auxiliary, and

… her snapshots of the Sioux City branch’s 75th Anniversary party:

Most certainly the Gilberts attended the state convention hosted by the Davenport NALC branch the year before, in 1964. Attendees were treated to a boat ride on the Mississppi River, an “evening smorgasbord,” a dinner with a dance, and luncheons at the Hotel Blackhawk. The national union president of the NALC decried the recent Post Office service cuts in his address to members. (1) Margaret saved this clipping from the Morning Democrat about the plans for the convention:

Davenport Morning Democrat, April 21, 1964, p. 3.

Perhaps these mini mail saddlebags were given out at the Davenport convention?

Margaret Gilbert identified herself as the woman in blue on the right side of this photograph of the 1969 Davenport NALC Auxiliary Christmas party:

We believe she is also pictured in this photograph of a Hawaiian-themed NALC party from around the same time. We haven’t been able to identify Ed!

The Gilbert household would have received the “Iowa Postman,” the “official publication of the Iowa State N.A.L.C.” in the mail every month. This issue is from June, 1965:

“Nalcrest” was the name of the Florida retirement community where letter carriers from Davenport and all over the country could spend their golden years. A writer for the Davenport Times-Democrat noted that union members and their families could relax in “…homes that match or surpass those they have occupied in the cities from which they came. And they have the sunshine and tranquility as a bonus with no snow, sleet, or dogs to worry about.” The “restless feet of the mailmen,” he said, could walk along the “many paths and lanes along lakes and lagoons” and even “stroll to the post office for their own mail” — there were no mailboxes or mail deliveries at Nalcrest! (2)

Image from The Postal Record, March 2014, p. 22.

Although he passed away while still on the job, we hope Edward Gilbert at least had the chance to visit Nalcrest with Margaret. We certainly know he was a respected mail carrier in Davenport: “Here’s the kind of postal service no one can dispute,” said Jim Kadera in the “City Vignettes” feature of the Times-Democrat for April 16, 1964, as he went on to tell how Ed returned a bag full of thousands in cash he found along his route to a tavern employee who had dropped it on the street nearby

The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center wishes union members and workers everywhere a happy and healthy Labor Day weekend!

(posted by Katie and Cristina)

(1) Daily Times, May 18, 1964, p. 13.

(2) Doob, Oscar A. “Retired Mailmen Live in Dogless Paradise,” Times-Democrat, March 29, 1964, p. 2C.

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QC Life in the New Normal Writing Project: Phase II

This project has allowed community members to express themselves through writing about how they are feeling, coping, and managing to live through this unexpected, life-changing event. This also helped us to capture this period of history through the words of the people by preserving real-time reflections about life in the Quad Cities during the COVID-19 era.

We asked that people submit writing pieces, including poems, essays, and more. In addition, during this phase, we also asked for photos and artifacts. Specifically, we asked for any photos related to working from home, signs people had seen posted, documents, letters, memos, or anything else they wanted to share. We gave examples of the various creative writing formats for different age groups, but participants could write in the format of their choosing.

Phase II of QC Life in the New Normal Writing Project offered personal comparisons between people and their life experiences. We were thrilled to get these incredible submissions. We hope you enjoy them as well!

Winner of Phase II

“Recalled to Service” by Andrew Sichling

Veteran, your nation needs you in ways that you never thought possible. You thought it was all over once you got your discharge paper, the coveted DD-214. Remember when that Master Sergeant looked at you and said that you were one of those “break glass in time of war” kind of guys. The glass has been broken, Veteran. 

You came back to a society that you didn’t feel comfortable in. You didn’t feel comfortable because you knew that the luxuries of America are so fragile, that it could break at any moment. You knew that the United States has life and peace not seen anywhere else. 

Veteran, your nation is scared and doesn’t know what to do or how to live. It is up to you now to be a light in the darkness like the Green Goddess of Ellis Island. It is through your enlistment that you gained abilities and leadership that the American people need now. 

Veteran, you know the dangers that the world holds. You have seen it first hand. You’ve seen people who were persecuted for religious beliefs, sexual orientation, political ideology, and even hair color. You’ve seen the portal to Hell and yet, you smiled. 

The American people are now seeing the same portal. A great Dragon released its rage among the populace. You are now the only force between your tribe and the Dragon. You must posture yourself against this evil beast that wants nothing but the utter destruction of your 
people, home, and way of life. Veteran, you know what it’s like to live with leadership that has no idea what’s going on. You’re seeing politicians on the news pointing fingers at each other and calling each other names. You know that it’s all grandstanding. You’ve seen how leadership doesn’t know what to do because that’s what chaos is. It’s a flow of ever-changing issues that don’t stop. You know that you must carry on like you always did. You know what it’s like to walk down a path of uncertainty like it was your home that you grew up in. You know how to keep walking. It is now up to you to show the American people how to do it.

Veteran, you know what it’s like to live with an enemy you can’t see. COVID-19 is claiming thousands of lives, but no one knows where it is. Just like what you saw during your time on the streets of Baghdad, the mountains of Afghanistan and the plains of Syria. You had to always be on guard. The child might be harmless, but it could also be a suicide bomber. You never knew, but you kept on. 

Americans don’t know who does or doesn’t have the disease. Every time an American goes out into the community they have a chance of contracting the virus and for some, it could be a death sentence. Just like you, but you didn’t have the luxury of #stayhome. You must demonstrate that same courage now, holding off the fear in the back of your mind telling you the dangers and showing your fellow countrymen how to move forward in the world. 

Veteran, you know boredom. Americans don’t know what it’s like to be restricted to their homes like this. You do. Combat is 99% boredom 1% excitement. You were in your tents, holes, and structures for months. Watching the same thing over and over again because you 
couldn’t stream anything. You found ways to keep yourself entertained, you found ways to not mentally break from not knowing if, how or when you would meet your maker. Show your families and loved ones how not to go stir crazy. Find some open area and exercise, you know to 
be resourceful with your land. Remember how you used to do calisthenics between the tents. How you took empty ammo cans, filled them with sand as improvised kettlebells. Play the Name Game, where someone says a celebrity’s first and last name and the next celebrity’s first name had to start with the same letter as the previous celebrity’s last name, you remember that you used to play for hours on post amongst the other fire teams. Talk about the things you want to do after this is all said and over, like the dates you want to take your sweethearts on, or how you’re going to enjoy that first good meal at your favorite restaurant. 

Veteran, you know how to do more with less. You went months at a time without luxuries. Most of you never even had a toilet for the duration of your deployment. Tap into that again and show your families that not being able to make that quick trip to Wal Mart is okay. How to do without. You figured out how to make tables out of wood and sandbags. You still 
have your utilities during this time, you can just flip the lightswitch, unlike during your deployments. You know how to ration supplies and how to make food with a combination of things you never would’ve thought of. Remember the MRE Cookbook? Now it’s time to get creative like you used to. Remember, anything tastes edible with enough Tabasco on it. 

Veteran, you know how to plan for supplies. Like I said earlier, the quick trip to the store every day is not a thing right now. You remember that getting supplies was a full tactical mission that had to be planned out to the smallest detail. What routes would be taken, how much your vehicles could hold, and just how long you were able to be out. Your leadership was never going to constantly put in orders for supplies every day and things like ammunition and water were going to take precedent over things like tobacco, energy drinks, and baby wipes (because you couldn’t take an actual shower). Now is the time to show your loved ones how to make lists and show how they can live without certain things for a while until it is deemed worthwhile. 

Now, the politicians are calling for either extension of the stay at home orders, or a phasing operation to reopen. Just like how deployments were. Sometimes you got extended, and sometimes you got sent home early. Now, you need to show the populace how to go with the flow, how to take things as they come. Like how you were supposed to be in Afghanistan for ten 
months, then a year, then you got sent home at around the eight-month mark. You also remember the times you got deployed on short notice, that twice, you were only given a four day weekend with your families before you went forward into enemy territory. Then getting sent home after four months on your last deployment, that you reenlisted for, because of the draw down. 

Veteran, you know everything will return to normal. You remember coming back from your deployments and life went on. You remember the surreal feeling of getting in a car that you didn’t need your PPE. The American people will eventually go back to that, and it’ll be weird for 
them just like it was for you. That one day it’ll be back to how it was, and life goes on. It’ll be unceremonious, just like how it was for you, the days of ticker-tape parades being a thing of the past. 

The Dragon will be slain and the people will rejoice. Things will go back to how they were and you won’t have the luxury of being able to relax. Veteran, I know you feel normal during this. This is what you’ve been wanting, that your people will see that you aren’t crazy and that all your preparation wasn’t for nothing and you don’t want it to come to an end, but it has to. 

Veteran, where do you go from here? You know what you must do and what you serve as. You know that time and life always move on. You’ll be training for the next thing because as you know, it’s never goodbye, it’s “see you later.”

Honorable Mentions:

“Untitled” by Kristina Bouxsien-Hearn

If I had known that March 11, 2020  would be the last day I’d get to drop off my preschooler and my kindergartner at school, I would have slowed down and appreciated the moment. I was already feeling anxious and worried about the spreading coronavirus, but it still felt far away, affecting other areas. When the message came that local schools were shutting down, it felt real and deep; the pandemic was serious and things weren’t going to be normal for a very long time. I sat on my basement steps and cried, pouring out all the weight that I was carrying in my mind, upset for the businesses and people who were losing their livelihoods during the shutdown, concerned for individuals in complete isolation, and most of all scared for people losing friends, family, or their own lives to the virus. It all made me feel incredibly helpless. Tragic things were happening in the world around, and I couldn’t do anything about it. 
A week later my husband arrived, unexpectedly, in the middle of the day, with two monitors in tow. He was required to work at home – another big change, but I am thankful for it.

As the days went by, I grappled with my anxious feelings and came to a few realizations. My primary feeling was helplessness, but I tried to combat that by focusing on the things that were in my control. That I was doing my part by following the CDC guidelines and  staying at home as much as possible. That I could help my children understand what was happening and give them a sense of normalcy. I signed up to give blood, donated to the food bank and relief efforts, reached out to those in isolation, and helped make masks for the Million Mask challenge. We looked for hearts on windows and driveways. I wrote a blog trying to uplift others by highlighting the positive things that people/organizations were doing. At the beginning of the pandemic, even with the terrible situation, there was a great deal of kindness, and people were trying their best to help out. 

But yet, on many days I still felt frozen in place. 

I devoured every article on the virus that I could, and paid way too much attention to social media. I saw people argue in the comments about masks, vaccines, politics, and conspiracies. Some mornings, I would wake up and not feel like getting out of bed. I did get out of bed for my children, and put on a happy face, but inside I felt irritated and negative.

As the months passed, I have taken steps to change my outlook. I disconnected from social media, and limited the news that I read about the virus, while still staying up to date. It’s been easier to get out of bed in the morning and I’m feeling much more positive. We’re all adjusting to this new normal and I have hope that the rest of COVID-19 will be easier to navigate and emotionally process than the first few months.

“Covid and the Big Surprise” by Heidi Exner Larson

I have a lung disease called Bronchiectasis.  The diagnosis came at around the time I turned 70 in February. Since corona virus marched into our collective lives, I’ve been paying close attention to the numbers: how many cases, how many deaths, how many recovered, hot spots, testing, tracing…. I’m trying to play the odds for when to go in for an elective procedure, a bronchoscopy, needed to determine the nature of the inflammation and how to treat it.

Just as Covid-19 cases and deaths were going down in our area, George Floyd was murdered by police in Minneapolis.  The scars covering the wounds of historic racial inequality were ripped off by the televised image.  The incident exposed the original sin of the country’s racist underpinnings and unleashing worldwide outrage.  Protests and demonstrations erupted all over the nation. People’s conviction to hold wrong-doing to account overrode the fear of the virus; thousands fanned out in cities large and small to register their anger and sorrow. They called for change in this country in ways that reflect the values of its founding principles, and for abolishing unequal treatment of minorities.

Were it not for my age and health condition, I would have joined the outcry in the mostly peaceful demonstrations in Davenport.  It was a hard choice to stay home. I’m somewhat heartened that there are other ways to join in the movement.  (Writing an op ed for the newspaper and sending letters to our senators are two that come to mind.)

So, I’m back to square one regarding when to schedule the lung scope.  The hospital to which my medicare plan is tied, assures the public that those having elective surgeries are sequestered from Covid patients.  The facility is taking extra precautions to protect anyone requiring their health care services.

Questions still swirl in my head.  What if the doctor performing the test has brought the virus to work the day I go in for the procedure, without knowing he has it? What about the anesthesiologist, the nurse, the intake personnel?  Which, if any of them, are unwittingly shedding corona virus cells that day, before symptoms have manifested?

Lots of “what ifs”.

On the other hand, I can’t put off the necessary scope much longer. And perhaps more urgently, after months of self-quarantine, I need to accept the risks of surgery during the pandemic, just to get out of the house and be with society again. I’ll do it, if only to get a day of human interaction that, while not exactly “fun”, will be social nonetheless. The self-isolation has been lonely and anxiety producing.  I’ve had periods of depression, periods of optimism, periods of paralysis and periods of blissful denial.

But one sure thing has brought me out of my “Covid funk”.  It is the news I got on Mother’s Day: we are going to be grandparents! All the numbers crunching, the “what ifs”, the speculations and angst have taken a back seat to this news.

No matter what happens, it will not alter the facts that we are to become grandparents for the first time, and that our daughter and son in law are starting a family.  What a tectonic shift! 

I’ll take care of myself as best I can to help ‘bend the arc’ toward justice for all, to lower the Covid-19 case numbers, and to become the best grandma I can be.

Addendum: Since writing this piece, I’ve made the appointment for the bronchoscopy.  Maybe the hospital is the safest place in public now.  At least everyone there is following CDC guidelines with personal protective equipment (PPE): N95 masks, face shields, frequent hand washing and disinfectant application, specialty gowns and Nitrile gloves.

“A Time for We not Me” by John Bowman

Four photograph of a 100th birthday parade for Bernie Bettini, a Coast Guard during WWII. “100th Birthday parade for Bernie Bettini, a veteran of the Coast Guard seeing during WW II. Many veteran’s groups, to include the Honor Flight of the Quad Cities, organized the parade on her birthday which was also Armed Forces Day. When in times of trouble we get together. The motto of Honor Flight of the Quad Cities is “It is all about the veteran”. We all wore masks and all got together; at a safe distance.”

We are looking at ways to continue this project. Please look for more information in eNewsletter and on our Social Media accounts soon!

(posted by Kathryn)

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The Hotel Davenport

In 1907, a modern era of buildings began in the growing city of Davenport with the completion of a new hotel on the corner of Main and Fourth Streets. This hotel poised mid-way between Union Station and the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad stations at the prime location of 324 Main Street in LeClaire’s 1st Addition boasted six stories and other attractive features for its guests. Designed in the Renaissance Revival architectural style, the delicate terra cotta adornments on its corners and the symmetrical layout of the building, were eye-capturing to the public.

Before the ground was broken on April 11, 1906, the businessmen and the financial supporters of this venture had Temple, Burrows, and McLane Architects draw up plans for this fire-resistant building.

A statement from Temple and Burrows, Architects- P.T. Burrows, Architect in charge

Erection of the Davenport Hotel inaugurated a period of building that would bring Davenport’s central business district fully into the era of the “tall buildings.” Despite loss of the original cornice, Temple & Burrows’ hotel retains a very high degree of integrity and continues to be an import feature of the City’s commerical center.

Bowers, Martha, and Marlys Svendsen-Roesler. Architectural/Historical Survey.

Below are image captures of two sheets of plans for this new hotel.

The building materials used consisted of brick over steel and concrete. The interior materials were purchased from local businesses and businesses across the region. The cost of the build was approximately $260,000, even though the exact numbers were not shared.

Its distinguishing features include modified distyle in antis main entrance. Additionally, the hotel offer amenities that fit the needs of all its guest and visitors. There were bedrooms with and without a bath, sample rooms for the traveling salesmen, and a relaxing dining environment. From the 1983 Architectural/Historical Survey, Bowers and Svendsen-Roesler state,

It eclipsed the older establishments like the Kimball and St. James. The hotel’s modern features included sample rooms for traveling salesmen, elevators, a dining room, some private baths, and fire proof construction throughout.

Davenport Hotel’s reputation as the city’s finest accomodation was not unchallenged for long. In 1915 the Blackhawk Hotel was built and business at the Davenport was seriously and permanently injured. In 1916, the Davenport was sold to the Black Hotel Company.

Bowers, Martha, and Marlys Svendsen-Roesler. Architectural/Historical Survey.

In the October 31st, 1907 article about “The Magnificient New Hotel Davenport”, the author describes in detail the features of this impressive structure.

At its opening, the owner was the Davenport Hotel Company. The lessees and proprietors were James F. Gorman and William Hudson Harrison. The rest of the hotel staff were skilled workers brought from hotels in Des Moines to Chicago.

James F. Gorman, one of the lessees and proprietors, was born in Davenport on May 11, 1857, to Irish immigrants, Francis and Elizabeth (Curry) Gorman. He wedded Miss Mary Doheney on February 2, 1897, in Chicago, Illinois. They had two children, William and Arthur. He passed away on March 12, 1924, in Davenport, and interment was made in St. Marguerite’s cemetery. He worked at many hotels during his career as a hotel keeper.

“James F. Gorman, Well Known Local Hotel Man, Succumbs to Long Illness.” The Davenport Democrat and Leader. March 13, 1924, page 15.

William Hudson Harrison, a nephew and business partner to Mr. Gorman, was born in Davenport on August 6, 1866, to Thomas and Anne (Gorman) Harrison. Mr. Harrison married Caroline Delaney in 1903. He attended Sacred Heart Parochial School and St. Ambrose University. He started his career at the Hotel Kimball (renamed the Perry Apartments and later the Vale Apartments). He and his uncle took over the lease of Hotel Kimball and the Hotel Davenport. After his work with the Hotel Davenport, Mr. Harrison moved to Chicago for two years. He worked at the Fernwood Hotel. As a community leader, he served on City Council as alderman of Davenport’s Fifth ward. He passed away on June 30, 1922.

“Wm. H. Harrison Well Known Hotel Man Is Dead; Ill Long Time.” The-Daily-Times. June 30, 1922, page 1.

In 1915, Hotel Davenport saw its first change of hands as its first proprietors sought retirement and new management opportunities. Over a few days in December, the fate of this hotel was up in the air because, on December 8, David Morrison was slated to be the new proprietor because he had the best financial backing, but a few days later on December 16, 1915, The Daily Times announces that Miller Hotel Company closed a deal for Hotel Davenport. This hotel company also owned the Hotel Blackhawk and the new Kimball. They planned to make extensive improvements throughout the Hotel Davenport.

Whoever managed this magnificent hotel wanted it to succeed, so they attempted various ways of sharing information about its offerings. To attract guests, hotels would put advertisements into the local city directories and newspapers. These are a few examples of ones showcasing the charm and features of Hotel Davenport.

“Great Hotels.” The Daily Times. April 15, 1916, page 12.

A fire broke out late in the day on January 3, 1939, on the two top floors of the hotel. Two employees sustained burns from the conflagration. The hotel was repaired and the building is still standing today as an apartment complex on the top floors and businesses on the first floor.

“Davenport Hotel Is Hit by Flames, Dies Report Condemns Labor Dept.” The Daily Times.January 3, 1939, page 1.

Below are images of this still impressive building from the 1980s.


Images. Architectural Survey 2002: Building Files 1 – 19: Block 13: Davenport Hotel

Bowers, Martha, and Marlys Svendsen-Roesler. Architectural/Historical Survey. Wehner, Nowysz, Pottschull, and Pfiffner. Davenport, Iowa, 1983.

“Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871–1920.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2010. Illinois Department of Public Health records. “Marriage Records, 1871–present.” Division of Vital Records, Springfield, Illinois.

(posted by Kathryn)

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It’s Ratified! Women’s Suffrage Amendment Passes

“Suffrage Amendment Ratified.” The Davenport Democrat. August 18, 1920, page 1.

Congress passed it on June 4, 1919, and Iowa ratified it on July 2, 1919. Tennessee finally tipped the scales on the 18th of August 1920 as the 36th state to pass this landmark legislation – the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

It was a long time coming! Women in Davenport and Scott County, Iowa had been working for and against the issue for fifty years. Both sides were well organized and affiliated with state and national organizations. Both shared persuasive arguments and tried to garner support and enthusiasm for their causes in myriad ways. Both had spent the past four years campaigning tirelessly for their beliefs.

World War I was in full swing in May 1916 when the Suffrage Headquarters and Anti-Suffrage Headquarters both located on East Third Street next door to each other in the 100 block.

“Davenport’s War Zone on East Third Street.” The Davenport Democrat and Leader. May 25, 1916, page 6.

Who were these women? Based on names found in local newspapers, research was conducted using Davenport city directories and the 1915 Iowa state and 1920 federal census. The mean average age of women involved in both groups was 40 years. The oldest of the identified members of the “Scott County Equal Suffrage Association” was 67 years and the youngest 25. Of this group, roughly 50% had attended at least one year of college and most had completed high school. Their religious affiliations varied tremendously with the highest percentage stating they attended the Unitarian Church.

The “Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage” by and large identified as Episcopalian. 44% reported attending at least one year of college. The youngest was 22 and the oldest was Alice French at 66 years of age. Yes, that Alice French – the local author whose nom de plume was Octave Thanet. The rest of the Anti-Suffs could have easily played “Six Degrees of Alice” as upon inspection they were direct relatives, in-laws, neighbors and part of Davenport’s Who’s Who including the names French, Decker, Lischer, Hecht, Lane, Mueller, Richardson, Roberts, Waterman, and Vollmer.

When Scott County voted down the amendment in the June 1916 primary election, Miss Alice French was quoted in the newspaper speaking for the County chairman of IAOWS Mrs. Jane Crawford and herself, “We are the happiest women on earth. It was a clean-cut victory for our cause. We feel most kindly toward all and wish to thank all the men who stood by us so nobly.” *

Miss Clementine Lewis, niece of Emma H. Mueller (Mrs. Frank) expressed, “I am so pleased to know that so many men in dear old Iowa love their mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and sweethearts so much that they voted “No.’” * 

Mrs. Nathaniel French stated, “I should like to extend a word of thanks to our husbands, sons, and brothers who have so decidedly said No when it was proposed to burden the women with the responsibility of suffrage. Let us specialize on the duties which we can do best-care of the old, children, and the sick as well as our homes, and our men will always be ready to make the laws to help us out.” *

In response, the Scott County Equal Suffrage League is quoted in the Daily Times Wed. June 7, 1916 p.4, “We wish to express our appreciation of the thousands of men of Scott county who voiced their opinion that women are justly entitled to the ballot. Four years from now, if our friends, the men of Iowa, will again help us we will sweep the state…Equal suffrage is coming; nothing can stop it.”

In August 1916 the executive board of the Scott County Equal Suffrage League sent a telegram to President Woodrow Wilson urging him to submit the suffrage amendment before Congress adjourned that session. It was signed by Mrs. L.G. De Armand, Mrs. Herbert Lafferty, Miss Grace Rose, and Mrs. Fred Lambach.

In late February 1917, the pro-suffragettes enlisted the press to demonstrate favorable sentiments toward equal suffrage by publishing statements of men in favor of the issue including Arthur Davison Ficke, Charles Grilk, and E.K. Putnam.

By April 1917 the United States had joined their allies in the Great War. Women all over the country embraced jobs that traditionally had been done by males. Their contributions, which enabled the country to pursue the war effort, seemed unfair to many, given their inability to contribute to society as full citizens. The heavy sacrifice and a changing understanding of the meaning of democracy brought on by the war gave the suffrage movement renewed energy and enthusiasm.

Tables turned in July 1919 with Iowa’s ratification of the amendment. Chairman of the Scott County Equal Suffrage league Miss Grace Seaman stated, “I think one of the main reasons the men have voted as they have is in recognition of women’s work and what women have done in helping win the war. It is due to American women and to Iowa women to have the right to vote.” **

Davenport Public Library director Miss Grace Rose, who had started a Suffrage Study Club in 1916 to provide education on the subject, called it a splendid victory. Mrs. Henry W. von Maur said she was happy to know “that we are to have a way of expressing ourselves that we have never had before.” **

As for Alice French, she reportedly laughed and stated “the American people are on a moral jag and are going the limit and are preparing themselves for a very bad headache the day after. And the worst part of it is we will all have to take the consequences.” **

Prior to the 1920 November election, the civics department of the Davenport Woman’s Club along with the assistance of many other women’s organizations provided a series of six programs of instruction for women on how to use voting machines. It seems as though Miss French along with many of her former Anti-Suffs were now willing to work with department chair Dr. Genevieve Tucker as a reception committee to ensure the women of Davenport were prepared for this historic occasion.

On Tuesday, November 2, 1920, hundreds of Davenport women cast their first ballot.

“Waiting in Line to Cast Their First Vote.” The Daily Times. November 2, 1920, page 1.

No voter registration records exist at the state or county level so there is no official record of which ladies chose to cast a vote. However, the newspaper did highlight a 90-year-old woman, Margaret Chatters Ferrall, who registered to vote in Davenport and as of November 1st planned to go to the polls accompanied by her daughter Mrs. Horace Birdsall and granddaughter Mrs. Dick Lane. Ironically, both of the younger ladies had assisted Miss French in the Anti-Suffrage cause.

We are quite pleased to take the consequences, Miss French.


* Davenport Democrat Thursday, June 8, 1916 page 14

**Davenport Democrat Wednesday, July 2, 1919 page 15 accessed August 18, 2020

Davenport, Iowa newspapers

Davenport, Iowa city directories

AncestryLibrary Edition

(posted by Karen)

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National Black Business Month

August is National Black Business Month, and this week’s blog celebrates Black-owned businesses active in Davenport at three different points in its history.

The earliest African American proprietor in the city was likely barber James Hanover Warwick.  His freedom purchased by his “Aunt Matilda,” Warwick began learning his trade as a teenage apprentice in Richmond, Virginia, later gaining experience as a personal servant to a tobacco agent (who took him to Paris and Washington, D.C.) and to the father of actor Edwin Booth, as well as in service to travelers on Ohio and Mississippi River steamboats. He came to Davenport from St. Louis with his wife Beryl in 1848, and opened his own shop on Brady Street in 1856. As the advertisements below attest, Warwick was a barber and more: a hairdresser, wigmaker, and ”perfumer” for men and women alike. His success was widely recognized, the Davenport Sunday Democrat for February 17, 1895 stating “…there are but few men in Davenport who have not been in his chair” upon news of his death.

Daily Iowa State Democrat, September 30, 1858, p. 1.
Daily Democrat and News, July 23, 1863, p. 1.
Davenport Morning Democrat, June 13, 1866, p. 1.

The “List of Early African-American Business and Professional Women in Davenport, Iowa” for the years 1890-1920 assembled by local historian Craig Klein includes frequent mention of Mrs. Rosa Corbin in the Iowa Bystander. Keeper of a rooming house, Mrs. Corbin was described by the Des Moines-based African American newspaper as “a hustler” who would “soon be in moderate circumstances at the rate she is now working” in August 1906. The following summer, the Bystander noted “Mrs. Rosa A. Corbin is a very successful woman. She owns some valuable property.” Presumably, this referred to the Corbin Flats, five rooms at 935 Gaines Street; Mrs. Corbin lived at 936.  Her name was among those of several other women and men (her then-husband Alexander was president) establishing the Negro Business Local League of Davenport, Iowa in September 1901. (Davenport Republican, September 15, 1901, p. 5.)

Stone’s Davenport City Directory, p. 206.

In 1970, the Times-Democrat ran a series of articles on Black-owned businesses in Davenport, beginning with a feature on Earl Maupins, proprietor of Wax Lights, a candle shop at 317 Harrison Street.

Times-Democrat, January 11, 1970, p. 17.

In the April 5th issue, Charles Orman featured Greco Enterprises, Inc. founder George Greer in “From Test Tube to Mop.” Greer had just made the move from working for the Alter Company as analytical chemist to managing his own office cleaning business.

Times Democrat, April 5, 1970.

Part III of the Times-Democrat‘s series “Davenport’s Blacks Speak Out in 1972” focused on Black business owners and their struggles to secure financing in the area at that time. Published on August 29, 1972, the article featured Black owners of businesses including a clothing store, a barbershop, a coin laundry, a record shop, and a real estate and insurance agency.

Flynn Griffin owned a trucking and hauling firm. Mr. Griffin started his business with money he earned from prize fighting. His business expanded from 3 trucks in 1952 to nearly a dozen in 1972. He said he still had trouble landing contracts, even when he was the low bidder on the job. He said “I don’t have any trouble landing contracts for chain stores operated outside Davenport. But, whenever there are local business people involved, I’ve had trouble.” Griffin’s Trucking is listed in the Davenport City Directories through 1989.

Alfred and Rufus Garrett started Garrett Realty, an insurance and real estate agency in 1961 and also owned Garrett Brothers Excavating, a landscaping business established by their father in the mid-1920s. Alfred said “When I came back from California in 1946 I tried to buy a house. No one would sell to black people. I decided then I would someday establish a black real estate agency.” The brothers remained in business for 4 decades. Alfred died in 1998 and Rufus in 2011.

William Dean owned a 25-unit coin laundry at 530 Farnam. Mr. Dean tried to get a $25,000 loan from local banks but was told “Black people can’t borrow that kind of money.” He hired an attorney to interpret the regulations and contracts. After a year and a half of trips and letters to and from the Small Business Association in Des Moines, he finally got approved for an SBA loan. Dean’s Laundromat is listed in the Davenport City Directories through 1973.

L.A. Broyles operated Broyles’ Barbershop at 1226 1/2 Harrison Street. Mr. Broyles tried to borrow $1,000 to buy chairs and barbering equipment but was told he needed at least 60% collateral. “I had a skill, but I couldn’t even buy the tools to work in my trade.” He worked full time at the Rock Island Arsenal and would work at his barbershop in the evenings. L.A. Broyles closed his shop in 2004.

William and Margaret Willingham owned the Psychedelic Record Shak at 1522 Harrison Street while both worked full time jobs. Margaret worked as an aide at Kirkwood Convalescent Home and William worked as a press operator at French & Hecht. They would take turns staffing the store during the day. They said they opened the shop in 1971 because “there was no place for backs to get soul music.” The Psychedelic Record Shak is listed in the Davenport City Directories through 1973. Mr. Willingham died in 2004.

Sylvester “Pete” Mitchell owned Lee’s Clothing and Jewelry at 312 W 2nd Street. He bout the business from Leonard Stone after working there for 2 years, starting out in 1969 doing alterations. He took business courses at a local college and became the store manager in 1970. Then he applied for a loan and bought one-half interest in the business. He bought the business out right when Stone retired. Mr. Mitchell and Lee’s Clothing and Jewelry are listed in the Davenport City Directories thought 1977.

And finally, we remember Davenport businessman Clyde Mayfield, who passed away last week on August 5th. He started Greatest Grains with his wife Julie Martens in 1980, shortly before graduating from St. Ambrose College. Mr. Mayfield retired from the Davenport Fire Department in 2001. He was a civil rights leader and served in the Davenport School Board for many years. Greatest Grains closed last year after almost 40 years in business.

QCT August 26 1982 p7

(posted by Katie and Cristina)

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