Women’s Work

In celebration of Women’s History Month 2022, we continue our investigation of Davenporter Albert Nuckols’ extended family, this time with a focus on its women members.

Nuckols arrived in Davenport in 1854 as a single parent, his wife Anna having recently passed away. It is possible he entrusted his then four-year-old daughter Eudora’s care to another African-American family in the city. By the time she was twenty, still a student at Davenport High School, “Eudora Knuckles” was part of the household headed by barber James G. Garland. [1] Garland’s wife Caledonia may have raised Eudora alongside her own children, Walter and Virginie (Jennie) beginning as early as 1857, when the Garlands arrived in Davenport. Perhaps it was John H. Warwick, James Garland’s employer, who introduced the two families. Warwick was “the first colored man Albert met when he came to this city.” [2]

It was the younger women of the two families that brought the Nuckols and the Garlands even closer: Eudora married Walter Garland in 1873, with sister Jennie as her bridesmaid. [3] Seven years later, in 1880, Jennie Garland named her third son (with husband Willis J. Walker, also a barber) after Eudora’s father, Albert. By this time, Caledonia Garland had lost her husband (James G. passed away in 1872) and was living in her daughter’s home on Harrison Street. [1] Caledonia most likely contributed to the care of her three Walker grandsons.

Eudora Nuckols passed away at a young age (36, in 1886, leaving no children), as did her sister-in-law Jennie Garland Walker (39, in 1894). [4] By the turn of the 20th century, it would be the older generation of Nuckols and Garland women who maintained the connection between the two families. In 1900, Caledonia Garland was living in the family home with her two grandsons, Willis J. and Albert N. Walker, both of whom were working as railroad dining car cooks. She also had a lodger: a “washer-woman” from Kentucky named Emily Kanes. [5]

An “Emily Kane” was a witness to Eudora Nuckols’ last will and testament in 1886, [6] along with Caledonia Garland, and a petitioner in the case of Albert Nuckols’ estate noted the deceased “…left surviving him only a sister whose residence is at Davenport, Iowa.” [7]  Could these three women be one in the same? It may be that Emily came to the city sometime after 1880, perhaps to find work and support from her brother after her husband’s death, or to help nurse her niece through an ultimately fatal illness. Then, after Albert’s death in 1889, she lived with Eudora’s mother-in-law and her brother’s namesake, her closest remaining relatives.

Or perhaps Emily Kanes lived in the Garland/Walker household earlier in the 1880s, assisting with child-rearing. She bequeathed part of her estate to Caledonia’s grandsons Willis J. and Albert N. Walker, “two boys,” she stated in her will, “whom I have brought up to manhood.” [8] Bert (Albert N.) Walker was the one who informed Scott County authorities of Emily Kanes’ death, and Willis arranged to have her body transported back to Versailles, Kentucky. [9]

The bond between the Nuckols and Garland families, forged in Davenport by two generations of women, finally broke with the passing of Caledonia Garland (1911) and Emily Kanes (1922); neither Willis nor Albert N. Walker married.

(posted by Katie)

[1] 1880 US Census for Davenport, Iowa.

[2] “Prince Albert,” Davenport Democrat-Gazette, February 1, 1889, page 4.

[3] Daily Davenport Democrat, October 3, 1873.

[4] “Walker,” The Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), August 13, 1894, page 4.

[5] 1900 US Census for Davenport, Iowa.

[6] Scott County [Iowa] Will Record No. 2, page 554, “Will and Testament of Eudora S. Garland.”

[7] Scott County, Iowa, Probate Case Packet No. 2830, Albert Nickols, March 8, 1889.

[8] Scott County [Iowa] Will Record No. 15, page 369, “Will of Emily Kanes.”

[9] Death certificate for Mrs. Emily Canes, Scott County, Iowa, filed September 8, 1922.

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