Every once in a while we notice things that have been right in front of us (that hmm moment). Then curiosity takes over and the research begins! I recently had one of those moments. While looking through local birth records I noticed that midwives, and not always doctors, signed the forms. Who were these early midwives and what could be uncovered about their occupation in Davenport?
Celia Horst is our first midwife researched. As we will see, it seems likely she learned her occupation in her homeland and brought her talents with her. Celia performed her services during an age when many women still felt more comfortable having their babies delivered by other women instead of men. In addition, many of the new immigrants to Davenport came from the same area of Germany as Mrs. Horst and her family. These expectant mothers may have found additional comfort with a woman who shared their language.
Mrs. Horst began advertising her services shortly after immigrating to Davenport in the city directory. She would continue to work as a midwife after her husband’s death in 1879.
Sielke Caecilla Wiese was born in Krumbek, Probstei, Holstein, on May 6, 1827 to Jochim Wiese and Margaretha Gretje Giese*. She married Hans Horst (1822-1873) in Germany sometime before 1852. They moved Scott County, Iowa in 1856 with their children Henry (1852-1926) and Anna (1856-1886). They had 4 more children that were born in Iowa: daughters Emma Cecelia (b. 1858), Laura Louise (b. 1863), Alma Berhardine (b. 1876) and a son, Adolph (1860-1864).
Celia Horst is listed in the Davenport City Directory for 1858-59 under Accoucheurs** (an early term for midwife or obstetrician that could be female or male). She lived on West Third Street, between Scott and Western Avenue. An area of Davenport that was heavily populated with recent German immigrants.
Mrs. Horst is also listed under Midwives in 1867 and 1873 as Mrs. C. Horst; in 1876 as Cacilie Herst and in 1882-83 as Mrs. Celitia Horst. Her signature can be found in many of the early Scott County birth certificates, beginning in 1880.
The 1870 U. S. census is the first time we find her being listed under Occupation as Midwife. She has no listed occupation in the 1860 Federal census and the 1856 Iowa census.
Mrs. Cecelia Horst died on August 31, 1895 at her home on 220 Gaines Street in Davenport. She is buried at Pine Hill Cemetery near her husband, Hans. Her obituary was published in the Davenport Democrat on September 1, 1895. Her brother, Peter Wiese (1822-1897), was a farmer in Mt. Joy. Another brother, Claus Henry Wiese (b. 1823), lived in Lyons and a sister, Anna Tiedemann (b. 1838), lived in Seattle, Washington. Her will leaves her possessions to her surviving children.
Mrs. Horst provided a great, and needed, service to the women of Davenport. We look forward to exploring the lives and careers of many of the other Real Midwives of Scott County soon.
(posted by Cristina)
* This information was taken from Ancestry World Tree. We have not been able to verify with any other source.
** ac*cou*cheur \ˌa-ˌkü-ˈshər\ n [F] (1759) : one that assists at a birth ; esp : obstetrician