It has been 14 years since we started writing blogs for our Special Collections Department. After all these years, it is still exciting when you come across an interesting story from our past. This week’s blog was intended to go in a different direction until I stumbled upon not only a local “character”, but one whose recipe was so enjoyed that it lingered for years after his passing.
Louis Schauder became a local entrepreneur during his years in Davenport. His specialty, besides great stories, was his Hungarian goulash. And like all great characters of the past, Louis had a fabulous story about his journey to Davenport and that special goulash recipe.
Louis “Louie” Shauder was born in Baden, Germany on May 11, 1838. He always said he journeyed to the United States with his brother in 1854 at the young age of 16 years old. As Louis told it (and it was repeated in local newspapers), he first settled in Saginaw, Michigan where he became Chief of Police. Then it took his fancy to move to Cincinnati, Ohio where he became a restauranteur. Finally, he found is way to Davenport where he stayed.
Louis was always described in newspaper accounts as a large, burly man. He was somewhat unkempt and lacking in truly refined social graces. But underneath the gruff exterior was a kind man. Maybe the gruff exterior was suited for being a Police Chief, but it may not have helped when opening a small restaurant in Cincinnati. Louis claimed no prior experience running such an establishment, but he still decided to give it a try. Business was slow until the night a clergyman wandered into his restaurant.
The mysterious clergyman was from Hungary. It was raining heavily that evening and the man was drenched. Not only was he completely wet, but the man was without any money. He was waiting, he explained to Louis, for money to be sent to him. He was not affiliated with a church to help him out. Things were difficult. He only needed to wait a few days for the money to arrive.
Louis, with his kind heart, not only let the clergyman come in to dry off and fed him, but took him in as well. The clergyman stayed with Louis as he waited for his money. The money finally arrived after several days. In his gratitude, the clergyman thanked Louis by sharing one of his possessions – a recipe for Hungarian goulash.
Soon after, Louis left Cincinnati and settled in Davenport, Iowa. He brought with him the delicious recipe that had been gifted to him. Davenport residents fell in love with the goulash and made Louis so successful he never left Davenport.
How much of Louis’ story is true?
We did find Louis living in Saginaw, Michigan around 1860. He married Johannah Stehmann there on November 15, 1860. We believe Johannah and possibly two young children passed away in the 1860s leaving Louis a widower with one young daughter named Anna.
He married Ida Young about 1870 in Davenport, Iowa. They appear to have known each other in Saginaw, Michigan. Did one follow the other to Davenport?
1870 is also the same year we find Louis mentioned in the local city directory as Lewis Shoder who owned a saloon at 6 W. Front Street. Louis, Ida, and Anna are also found in the 1870 U.S. Census living in Davenport as well.
By 1873, Louis owns a boarding house east of Main Street. In 1876, he is listed as the proprietor for the Schauder’s Hotel at 126 W. Front Street. From this address he would spend the next 34 years as a hotel owner, saloon owner, and restaurant owner.
Louis’ large stature would play a part in his success. In those early days of Davenport, businesses on Front Street faced a tough crowd as the nearby Mississippi River brought in rowdy crews from boats. Louis is found in several newspaper reports successfully defending his establishment from a disreputable patron who had had a little too much to drink.
He also is credited with opening the first Orchestrion Hall in the city around 1873. Reports of the day suggested it cost between $6,000 – $7,000; though we have not confirmed that price. We were able to confirm that he did run the Hall from the 126 W. Front Street address. In 1883, the hotel received a makeover with the organ being replaced with a newer model and art by artist John Cameron adorning the walls. The grand re-opening even featured his famous Turtle Soup. Turtle Soup?
We learned there were two specialties Louis’ establishments served over the years. His “grand” Turtle Soup was frequently mentioned in early advertising. While not as well-known today, Turtle Soup was popular on restaurant menus in the nineteenth century.
But soon, the Hungarian goulash replaced the Turtle soup at Schauder’s Hotel. This much celebrated dish was served thick, not thin like soup, with a large piece of rye bread on the side. No mention of noodles or potatoes as found in German goulash or other versions of Hungarian goulash.
As the years passed, river boat traffic slowed on the Mississippi River and was replaced by trains rolling through Davenport. The clientele changed as well on the river front. Crowds of rowdy deck crews were not seen as much while railroad passengers visited the Schauder’s Hotel. The fight against alcohol gained public support and by 1910 the aging Louis Schauder closed his hotel and saloon and kept only the restaurant open.
Louis had spent years fighting against prohibition, frequently losing his alcohol license and serving fines as he fought the new laws being passed in Iowa. He and Ida purchased a home at 1533 W. High Street and lived there starting in 1906. Ida died in 1913. Louis remarried for the third time in 1914 to Roseline Wolney.
Even though his restaurant was still popular, Louis finally retired in 1913 after the death of Ida. Many local restaurant owners tried to buy his goulash recipe (one was rumored to have offered $200 for the popular recipe). Louis declined selling his in case he might ever want to use it again one day.
It wasn’t until the Davenport Democrat and Leader published the news on January 24, 1916 that the public was let in on a secret. Louis Schauder did not sell his Hungarian goulash recipe. Instead he gave the recipe to fellow restaurateur, Albert Ohlsen. Hand picked by Louis, Albert not only was given the recipe, but Louis personally taught him how to prepare it. The recipe was now Albert’s to use.
Louis Schauder died days later on January 30, 1916 at his home. He was buried at Fairmount Cemetery in Davenport next to Ida.
Albert kept the recipe secret as well. Serving it as the cook at Maehr’s Restaurant, Ohlsen’s Café, Mac’s Tavern, Ohlsen’s Open Door, Saddle Club & Barn, and lastly Riefe’s. Locals would flock to have a dish of Schauder’s Hungarian Goulash and remember the burly man with tall-tale stories.
As for the recipe, we did find an article in The Daily Times from July 24, 1957. Mrs. Alice Widigen gave the recipe to the newspaper. She told the reporter that she received it from an aunt who said it was Schauder’s recipe. Could it be the one?
Mrs. Widigen mentions she had added to it. Looking at the recipe the first thing we noticed was the ketchup. Ketchup, or Catsup, in the late 1800s was much different from modern ketchup. Early ketchup was used as a sauce and not a condiment. It originally included many of the spices mentioned in the recipe. So, if anything might have been added in, we think it might be the ketchup. We had a differing opinions pertaining to the use of tomatoes which could have been increased as well by Mrs. Widigen. Sadly, we will never know.
As for Louis Schauder, we have learned a little of his story through research. Part of the challenge in documenting his travels before Davenport is the many ways Schauder may be spelled. Did Louis ever move to Cincinnati and open that little restaurant? Did a poor, wet clergyman really wander in and gift him with the Hungarian goulash recipe that people in Davenport would love for years?
In the end, maybe some stories are best unsolved. But we still wish we had the recipe for Shauder’s Hungarian Goulash.
(Posted by Amy D.)
- Davenport City Directories
- Davenport Democrat, December 14, 1875. Pg. 1
- Davenport Democrat, June 8, 1876. Pg. 1
- Davenport Democrat, December 18, 1877. Pg. 1
- Davenport Democrat, August 1, 1880. Pg. 1
- Davenport Democrat, March 25, 1883. Pg. 1
- The Morning Democrat, January 19, 1896. Pg. 1
- Davenport Daily Republican, October 10, 1897. Pg. 6
- Davenport Morning Star, November 7, 1897. Pg. 6
- Davenport Democrat and Leader, April 12, 1904. Pg. 6
- Davenport Weekly Republican, June 23, 1904. Pg. 7
- The Daily Times, January 2, 1908. Pg. 6
- The Daily Times, April 30, 1909. Pg. 7
- Davenport Democrat and Leader, September 19, 1909. Pg. 7
- Davenport Democrat and Leader, October 3, 1909. Pg. 14
- Davenport Democrat and Leader, July 3, 1913. Pg. 15
- Davenport Democrat and Leader, January 5, 1914. Pg. 13
- Davenport Democrat and Leader, January 21, 1916. Pg. 11
- Davenport Democrat and Leader, January 24, 1916. Pg. 14
- Davenport Democrat and Leader, January 31, 1916. Pg. 12
- The Daily Times, December 31, 1927. Pg. 24
- The Daily Times, December 31, 1928. Pg. 27
- The Daily Times, August 27, 1929. Pg. 3
- The Daily Times, August 29, 1929. Pg. 12
- Davenport Democrat and Leader, January 4, 1931. Pg. 5
- Davenport Democrat and Leader, October 25, 1934. Pg. 10
- The Daily Times, December 16, 1936. Pg. 4
- The Daily Times, November 22, 1950. Pg. 5
- Davenport Democrat and Leader, November 7, 1954. Pg. 55
- The Daily Times, July 24, 1957. Pg. 27
- Sunday times-Democrat, August 21, 1960. Pg. 47
- Quad-City Times, December 4, 1996. Pg. 2