Davenporters of Note: “Pete” Macías

Iowa Stories: Mexican-Americans [2006-2007]

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month we are featuring Pete Macías, who died on June 10, 2021, at the age of 102. Mr. Macías was interviewed by students at Smart Intermediate in 2006 for the Iowa Stories oral history project.

His father Manuel and uncle David were the first employees from México to work for the Bettendorf Company in the 1910s. They recruited 150 laborers at the El Paso/Juarez border for the Bettendorf Company during World War I. They were also founding members of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Silvis, Illinois along with neighbors from the Silvis barrio, La Yarda.

Leandro “Pete” Martín Macías was born March 4, 1919 in Davenport, Iowa to Manuel Martín Macías and María Guadalupe “Lupe” Pérez.

Pete had 8 younger siblings: Rudolph “Rudy” (b. 1920), Luz “Louise” (b. 1921), Romiro “Rummy” (b. 1922), Lenore (b. 1924), Manuel (b. 1927), Raul “Roy” (b. 1928), Guadalupe “Lupe” (b. 1930), and María “Mary” (b. 1935). The family lived in the barrio known as “Holy City” in Bettendorf during the Great Depression.

Their name is sometimes listed as Macias (1918), Martin (1920), Maciaz (1928), Marzias (1934), or Macia (1939). Their addresses are recorded in the Davenport City Directories as follows:

  • 1918: 713 East 10th Street
  • 1920: 318 West Grant
  • 1937: 1342 Grant
  • 1933: 9 Riverside Addition
  • 1939: Holy City
  • 1940: 1724 East 16th Street

Pete married Margarita Conchola on May 30, 1942, in Kahoka, Missouri. They had a daughter in 1943, a son in 1946, a daughter in 1951. The couple divorced in 1952. He married Betty Louise (Bailey) Hughes in 1958 in Rock Island County. Pete married Beverly Bennett on April 21, 1971, in Chicago. They were married for 50 years.

According to information in his WWI Draft Registration Card, Pete was in Milford, Iowa working for the National Youth Administration project. A youth training center for the mechanical trades opened near Lake Okoboji in September 1940. Pete later worked as a machine operator at International Harvester Farmall for 37 years, retiring in 1981.

Pete played basketball and softball as a teenager, but his favorite sport to practice was archery. He played the stand-up bass in local jazz bands and sang in the choir at the Center for Active Seniors. He was a founding member of the Quad City Mexican-American Organization in the 1970s. He was a member of the Knights of Guadalupe at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Silvis, Illinois.

#2005-02 Iowa Stories: Mexican-Americans [2006-2007]

For more information about the Macías family check out Migration Is Beautiful – a project featuring the Mujeres Latinas collections from the Iowa Women’s Archives at the University of Iowa Libraries.

(posted by Cristina)

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