Found in a Library Book: A Davenport Mayor Connection

We find curious artifacts in books from time to time. A couple of weeks ago when we were featuring our collegiate yearbooks we found two pen drawings by an Art Kroppach. Davenporters should be familiar with Mr. Kroppach. He was Davenport’s mayor for a decade from 1944 to 1954.

We made another interesting connection to this artifact in our collection. We have a portrait of Arthur that was painted in 1947 by Gay Tydeman who lived at 304 Union Arcade. This painting was submitted into the the artist competition at the Mississippi Valley Fair.

Because of these two beautiful sketches and our portrait of Art, we wanted to learn more about the life of Arthur Robert Kroppach. Arthur was born on September 22, 1921 to Robert Kroppach and Grace Darling in Burlington, Iowa. He attended elementary and high school in Burlington. He continued his education at the University of Iowa.

The pen drawings were found between pages 200 and 201 in “The Honor Roll” section. It was a partial list of alumni and students of who left the University of Iowa to enter the service. One of the students listed on page 201 was Arthur R. Kroppach.

Arthur received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Iowa 1917. He registered for military service during World War I. His registration card is dated May 28, 1917 and lists him as a law student and single. He was discharged from military service on November 27, 1918 at Camp Zachary Taylor in Kentucky.

After the war, he earned his law degree in 1920 from the University of Iowa. During his time at the University of Iowa he was known for more than his studies, he was a renowned thespian. Here are some images of him on the Iowa stage.

On September 22, 1921, Arthur married Anne E. Thoman, the daughter of John Paul Thoman and Mary Gerot, from Iowa City. She was born on April 25, 1897 in Riverside, Iowa. They had two children, Suzanne (born in 1925) and James Robert (born in 1931).

According to the city directories, Arthur was residing at 513 Putnam Building in 1920. He lived and worked in Davenport. He lived in the 5th Ward of Davenport. Arthur was elected to be an alderman on Davenport’s City Council in 1934. He represented the 5th ward. After 2 years, he was elected alderman-at-large, a position he served in for 8 years.

On April 27, 1942, he signed his draft registration for World War II. He was aged 48 and working at the Iowa Mutual Insurance Company.

In 1944, Arthur was elected to be the mayor of Davenport. His political party was Republican. He would serve in this capacity for the next decade until Mayor Walter Beuse was elected in 1954. As mayor, Arthur established the follow notable accomplishments:

  • the Davenport Municipal Airport Commission at Mt. Joy
  • installed Davenport parking meters
  • improved the seawall and fill-in to make the levee usable throughout they year, and the construction of an extensive seawall West from Gaines for future development of industry and park purposes
  • provisioned that stop signs be made for crosswalks to control traffic with children walking to school which lead to crossing guards.

According to our recent blog, A Look at Davenport in 1950, we found Davenport mayor Arthur R. Kroppach (age 54) living at 418 West Central Park Avenue with his wife Ann (age 51), daughter Suzanne (age 24), and son James (age 18). Suzanne was the assistant society editor for The Daily Times newspaper.

Morning Democrat (Davenport, IA) Jan. 1, 1954, 1.

After his tenure as mayor, Mr. Kroppach was appointed the postmaster of Davenport by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954 and served until 1968 when he retired.

He was still an active member in the Davenport community. He was known as an honest and civic oriented person. He died on May 18, 1980. He is buried at the Davenport Memorial Cemetery with his wife Anne.

Quad City Times (Davenport, IA) May 19, 1980, 1.


We hope that we will be able to share more of the artifacts we find in our books in the futures. This one had a unique Davenport connection!

(posted by Kathryn)

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