How was the City of Davenport named?

The city of Davenport, Iowa, was named by Antoine LeClaire, its principal founder, after his friend and co-founder, Col. George Davenport.

Col. Davenport never lived in Davenport, Iowa, but resided instead on an island (now called Arsenal Island) in the Mississippi River between Davenport and Rock Island, Illinois.

George L’Oste Davenport, the Colonel’s older son, did make his home in Davenport and was instrumental in its development.



Annals of Iowa. Series III, Vol. II (January 1895), pp. 243-244.

Wilkie, Franc B. Davenport Past and Present. (Davenport, Iowa: Luse, Lane & Co.), 1858.


Population of Davenport by decade

  • 1840     600 (approximate number)
  • 1850     1,848
  • 1860     11,267
  • 1870     20,038
  • 1880     21,831
  • 1890     26,872
  • 1900     35,254
  • 1910     43,028
  • 1920     56,727
  • 1930     60,751
  • 1940     66,039
  • 1950     74,549
  • 1960     88,981
  • 1970     98,469
  • 1980     103,264
  • 1990     95,333
  • 2000    98,359  
  • 2010     99,685
  • 2020    101,724



United States Census Bureau


Davenport Mayors

  • 1839 Rodolphus Bennet
  • 1840 John H. Thorington
  • 1841 Jonathan W. Parker
  • 1842 Harvey Leonard
  • 1843 James Thorington
  • 1844 James Thorington
  • 1845 James Thorington
  • 1846 James Thorington
  • 1847 James Bowling
  • 1848 James Bowling
  • 1849 Jonathan W. Parker
  • 1850 James Hall
  • 1851 Charles Weston
  • 1852 John Jordan
  • 1853 John A. Boyd
  • 1854 James Grant
  • 1855 Enos Tichenor
  • 1856 G.C.R. Mitchell
  • 1857 George B. Sargent
  • 1858 Ebenezer Cook
  • 1859 Ebenezer Cook
  • 1860 James B. Caldwell
  • 1861 George H. French
  • 1862 George H. French
  • 1862 John E. Henry
  • 1864 Robert Lowry
  • 1865 John L. Davies
  • 1866 John L. Davies
  • 1867 M. Donohue
  • 1868 M. Donohue
  • 1869 James Renwick
  • 1870 J.M. Lyter
  • 1871 John C. Bills
  • 1872 A.H. Bennett
  • 1873 J.H. Murphy
  • 1874 J.W. Stewart
  • 1875 Roderick Rose
  • 1876 Roderick Rose
  • 1877 T.T. Dow
  • 1878 John W. Thompson
  • 1879 Jerrie Murphy
  • 1880 Roderick Rose
  • 1881 John E. Henry
  • 1882 John G. Bills
  • 1883 John W. Thompson
  • 1884 Ernest Claussen
  • 1884 Ernest Claussen
  • 1885 Ernest Claussen
  • 1886 Ernest Claussen
  • 1887 Ernest Claussen
  • 1888 Ernest Claussen
  • 1889 Ernest Claussen
  • 1890 C.A. Ficke
  • 1891 C.A. Ficke
  • 1892 John C. Bills
  • 1893 Henry Vollmer — youngest Mayor: 27 years old when first took office
  • 1894 Henry Vollmer
  • 1895 Henry Vollmer
  • 1896 Henry Vollmer
  • 1897 S.F. Smith
  • 1898-1899 George T. Baker
  • 1900-1901 Fred Heinz — Democrat
  • 1902-1904 Waldo Becker — Democrat
  • 1903-1905 Harry W. Phillips — Republican
  • 1906-1907 Waldo Becker –Democrat
  • 1908-1910 George W. Scott — Democrat
  • 1910-1911 Alfred C. Mueller — Republican
  • 1912-1913 Alfred C. Mueller — Republican
  • 1914-1915 Alfred C. Mueller— Republican
  • 1916 Alfred C. Mueller — Republican
  • 1916-1918 John Berwald — Socialist
  • 1918 C.M. Littleton — Citizen’s Party (Ind.) — resigned due to business conflicts, April 22, 1919
  • 1918-1920 L. J. Daugherty — elected by City Council vote 5-2 against C. L. Barewold, May 7, 1919
  • 1920-1922 C.L. Barewold — Socialist
  • 1922-1924 Alfred Mueller — Republican
  • 1924-1928 Louis Roddewig — Democrat
  • 1928-1930 Harold Metcalfe — Republican
  • 1930-1934 George Tank — Democrat
  • 1934-1938 Merle Wells — Republican
  • 1938-1942 John Jebens — Republican — died in Office, March 8, 1942
  • 1942-1944 Edwin Frick
  • 1944-1954 Arthur Kroppoch
  • 1954-1957 Walter Beuse (Died in Office, August 26, 1957)
  • 1957-1961 Donato (Don) Petruccelli
  • 1961-1966 Ray T. O’Brien
  • 1966-1971 John H. Jebens
  • 1971-1975 Kathryn Kirschbaum
  • 1975-1977 Robert Duax
  • 1977-1981 Charles Wright
  • 1982-1986 Charles Peart
  • 1986-1991 Thomas Hart
  • 1992-1998 Patrick Gibbs
  • 1998- 2002 Phil Yerington
  • 2002-2006 Charlie Brooke
  • 2006-2008 Ed Winborn
  • 2008-2015 Bill Gluba
  • 2016- 2019 Frank Klipsch
  • 2020 – present Mike Matson


Sheriffs of Scott County

(year given is first year in office)

  • 1838 Frazer Wilson (served both Scott County and Rock Island County, Illinois)
  • 1842 A. H. Davenport
  • 1847 Harvey Leonard
  • 1858 James Thorington
  • 1863 John M. Lyter
  • 1867 Gustav Schmitzer
  • 1871 Harvey Leonard
  • 1881 Nathaniel Leonard
  • 1891 Harvey I. Jones
  • 1897 E. G. McArthur
  • 1906 Louis Eckhardt
  • 1917 Henry A. Kuehl
  • 1920 William Brehmer
  • 1925 Frank D. Martin
  • 1937 Walter Beuse
  • 1950 C. H. Wildman
  • 1964 William A. Strout
  • 1973 Ken Paulsen
  • 1978 Dale Hackett
  • 1979 Forest Ashcraft
  • 1993 Michael Bladel
  • 2000 Richard Huff
  • 2001- 2017 Dennis Conard
  • 2017 – present Tim Lane



Davenport City Directories, 1856 – present


The Latitude, Longitude, and Altitude of Davenport, Iowa are

Longitude: 90 W 34.5

Latitude: 41 N 31.5

Altitude: the city average is 700 feet above sea level; the altitude is 579 feet at the Mississippi River



City Engineer, City of Davenport, Iowa, 2001


The Tallest buildings in Davenport:

Wells Fargo Bank –

203 West 3rd Street      17 stories, including the clock tower (15 stories without)      **Tallest building in the Quad-Cities**

MidAmerican Building –

106 East 2nd Street      15 stories

Black Hawk Hotel –

200 East 3rd Street        11 stories

Kahl Building –

320 West 3rd Street        10 stories



Heitz, David.  “Davenport buildings tower about the rest.” Quad-City Times, March 15, 2007, p. A2.


CWA projects in Davenport 

The Civil Works Administration was a program created by the government during the Great Depression in order  to create temporary construction jobs during the winter of 1933.

Examples of CWA work in Davenport, Iowa, include:


Quick Flood Facts

Basic Flood Stage:

The Mississippi River flood stage at Lock and Dam 15 is 15 feet. At this stage, most of the river is at the height of its banks.

To reach the Main Street Library, the Mississippi would have to rise approximately 43′ above flood stage (or 28′ above its banks) (Public Works, 6/2008)

To reach Davenport City  Hall, the Mississippi would have to rise approximately 48′ above flood stage (or 33′ above its banks)

100-Year Flood:

 A 100-year flood is not the flood that will occur once every 100 years.  It’s a flood of sufficient rarity and scope that there is only a 1% (or 1 in 100) chance of it reoccurring in a given year.

(Source: National Weather Service Forcast Office, 9/14, sjw)

Most Recent Mississippi Flood:

2019: Crested June 1, 2019 at 21.68 feet

Top Record-Breaking Mississippi Floods:

1868: Crested March 10 at 22.00 feet

1892: Crested at 19.4 feet

1965: Crested April 28 at 22.48 feet

  • Called the “Flood of the Century” or the “Great Flood.”
  • 12,000 people were evacuated.

1993: Crested July 9 at 22.63 feet

  • More rain fell in June of this year than in any June of the previous 120 years.
  • The Garden Addition of Davenport was evacuated of all but 20 residents; the dike built after the 1965 flood did hold and the addition sustained only minimal damage
  • The Government Bridge closed.
  • Although the city of Moline, Illinois, called off Riverfest for the first time, the Bix Jazz Festival and Bix 7 Run were not cancelled.
  • The American Red Cross classified this flood as a “Level 5 Disaster.”
  • President Clinton visited on the 4th of July, promising $1.2 million in aid.

2001: Crested April 18 at 22.3 feet

  • Not record-breaking for level, but was the third 100-year flood in 8 years

2008: Crested June 16 at 21.49 feet.

2011: Crested April 22, 2011 at 20.71 feet.

2014: Crested July 4 at 20.90 feet.

2019: Crested April 8 at 20.68 feet.

  • First crest of 2019 to reach the top ten list at #10. A lessor crest had occurred in March.
  • Canadian Pacific Railway raises track levels to keep trains moving in flooded areas.

2019: Crested May 2 at 22.70 feet.

  • Breaking the record of the July 9, 1993 crest of 22.63 feet for the highest flood crest since record keeping began in Rock Island.
  • April 29th, the flood barrier at River Drive and Pershing fails in the afternoon causing flooding in some areas of downtown Davenport.
  • The Government Bridge closed.
  • Barriers put up to protect entrance ramp on the Talbot Memorial Bridge (formerly known as the Centennial Bridge).

2019: Crested June 1 at 21.68. Reaching #6 on the top ten list of floods as of August 2019.

  • The Mississippi River at Lock and Dam 15 in Rock Island, IL was above flood stage for 96 days – from March 15, 2019 – June 18, 2019. This breaks the previous days above flood stage which was 42 days in 1993 and 2011. 
  • August 5th, the City of Davenport’s Flood Plan was inactivated. It had been in continuous use since March 12.

1990 Duck Creek Flood

Heavy rainfall in May plus a torrential downpour on June 16, 1990 caused a flash flood of Duck Creek on this Father’s Day Weekend.  Damage was estimated at more than 25 million dollars, and four people in the Quad-City area died from the storm or the flooding it caused.



U.S. Corps of Engineers, Hydraulics Division

The City of Davenport, Iowa

Davenport newspapers.  The Great Flood of 1965: A Times-Democrat report of our most devastating flood.(Davenport, Iowa: Davenport newspapers), 1965.

Wundram, Bill.  Raging River. (Davenport, Iowa: Quad-City Times), 1993.

Wundram, Bill.  A Time We Remember. (Davenport, Iowa: Quad-City Times ) , 1999.


Mississippi River Bridges at Davenport, Iowa

Government Bridge (also called the Railroad Bridge) Between Davenport and Rock Island, Illinois 

  1. First bridge built 1856
  • Railroad only.
  • 1st railroad bridge to cross the Mississippi River.
  • Opened April 22, 1856.
  • May 6, 1856 Effie Afton (steamship) crashed into and burned one section.
  • Abraham Lincoln was one of the lawyers on the case for the Railroad when sued.     

2. Second bridge built 1866  

  • Same location.
  • Sturdier materials (still wood).
  • 1866 opening.
  • 1868 tornado damage.
  • 1868 ice damage to swing span.

3. Third bridge built 1872     

  • New location.
  • Iron and steel.
  • 2 levels (one railway, one roadway).
  • 1872 opening.

4. Fourth (and current) bridge built 1894-1895  

  • Same location as 3rd bridge.
  • Iron and steel.
  • 2 levels.
  • 1896 opening.
  • Piers reinforced in 1920s.
  • Lock and Dam #15 opened in 1934.
  • 1990s viewing deck and visitor center added.


Centennial Bridge Between Davenport and Rock Island, Illinois        

Length — 4,420        
Cost — $2.5 million        
Opened — July 12, 1940        
     1940–10 cents                    
     1979–15 cents                   
     1981–25 cents                   
     1991–50 cents                   
 Tolls removed May 3, 2003

Renamed the Master Sgt. Stanley Talbot Memorial Bridge in 2017. Master Sgt. Talbot was an Illinois State Police Officer who died June 23, 2001 from injuries received on duty near the bridge.


Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge (I-74) Between Bettendorf, Iowa, and Moline, Illinois, but originally owned and operated by Davenport until the Bridge was made part of the I-74 corridor in the mid-1970s.        

Length — 1,480 feet, not including anchorages        
Cost — $1,460,000        
First Span Opened — November 18, 1935             
Tolls–15 cents. The first person to get “toll-free” passage was Duane Dies, just after noon on December 31, 1969.                                           
Second Span Opened–January 20, 1960 


I-74 River Bridge 

A new Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge (I-74) began with a groundbreaking on June 26, 2017.  

  • November 13, 2020 the first completed span opened for Iowa-bound traffic.
  • December 2, 2021 the new I-74 River Bridge opened to traffic.



Davenport Times Centennial Edition, 11 July 1936
Davenport Democrat, 31 December 1940 
Times-Democrat, 01 January 1970

Expansion and Improvement of the Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge over the Mississippi River between Bettendorf, Iowa and Moline, Illinois: Final Report to the Davenport Bridge Commission. (Harrisburg, PA:  Modjeski and Masters), 1960.

Svendsen, Marlys. Davenport: a Pictorial History. ([S.L.]: G. Bradley Publishing Inc.), 1987.

Wundram, Bill.  A Time We Remember: Celebrating a Century in Our Quad-Cities.  (Davenport, Iowa : Quad-City Times), 1999.


Early Collisions with the Government (Railroad) Bridge

In 1856, construction was completed on the railroad bridge, which connected Davenport, Iowa, and the city of Rock Island, Illinois. This bridge was the first of its kind to span the Mississippi, and right from the start riverboat captains had trouble getting used to the innovation.

1856—The steamboat Effie Afton hits a piling and sinks, causing the steamboat company to sue the railroad for obstructing the river. The railroad company hires lawyer Abraham Lincoln from Springfield, Illinois, to represent them. In 1862, the Supreme Court rules in “Hurd vs. the Railroad Bridge Company” that if a bridge is for public use and enough room is left for navigation, it is not an obstruction.

September 28, 1858—The steamer Fannie Harris collides with a pier and sinks. Two firemen (steamer ‘firemen’ take care of the riverboat’s boiler) are knocked overboard and killed.

March 20, 1859—The steamer Aunt Letty is blown into a pier and forty feet of her hull is stove in.

May 10, 1861— The steamer Gray Eagle hits a pier and sinks. The total loss of boat and cargo is estimated at $50,000 (over $1, 080,000 in 2006 dollars).



  • History of Scott County, Iowa. (Chicago, Ill.: Inter-state Publishing Co.), 1882.


Davenport Cemeteries    

St. Marguerite’s

  • Officially platted by Reverend A. Trevis in the 1850s, though earlier burials did take place.
  • The oldest Catholic Cemetery in Davenport.
  • Name was changed to Mt. Calvary. No graves have been moved
  • Noted Burials: Antoine and Marguerite LeClaire, founders of Davenport (originally buried on the grounds of St. Marguerite’s Church, which is now the site of Sacred Heart Cathedral)
  • Records kept by Halligan-McCabe-DeVries (doesn’t matter if funeral was through them or not)

St. Mary’s

  • Some graves were moved to Holy Family and Mt. Calvary in the early 1900s
  • Noted burials:

o      Gilbert C. R. Mitchell, Mayor of Davenport in 1856
o      Dr. John Emerson, retired Army doctor and owner of Dred Scott. Associated with          Dred Scott vs. Sanford. Originally buried in Antoine LeClaire’s private burial ground at 6th and LeClaire Streets about December 30, 1843. All bodies removed by 1848. Sales receipt in Emerson’s probate lists purchase of family plot in new Catholic Cemetery on May 10, 1847 for Lot No. 8. Cemetery became St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery. No record exists of the body being moved to Holy Family Cemetery after St. Mary’s closed. Lot No. 8 is near the train tracks today. Most likely the body remains buried in old St. Mary’s Cemetery. 

Holy Family

  • Established due to crowding at St. Mary’s Cemetery
  • Records kept by Halligan-McCabe-DeVries (doesn’t matter if funeral was through them or not)

City Cemetery

  • In 1843, Asa Green sold a little more than 5 acres to Davenport to be used as a city graveyard.  In 1849, more land was purchased from his estate, bringing the original cemetery to approximately 11.5 acres.
  • In 1881, the cemetery’s office building burned to the ground, along with the burial charts.
  • Noted burials:

o       Casper Wilde, artist
o       Union soldiers who died while training in the Civil War camps of Davenport
o       Victims of the cholera epidemic of 1873

Davenport Memorial Park

  • Established by the City of Davenport in 1929
  • Annual Christmas lights display began in 1939 with a simple creche set. The final Christmas Display was December 2000.


  • Established in 1881 by stockholders (mostly of German descent) as the West Davenport Cemetery. 
  • John Dibbern was the first person buried, in August 1, 1881. 
  • In 1881, Burial plots cost $5    
  • Renamed Fairmount Cemetery in 1900.   
  • First used in 1891, the Fairmount Crematory is the 9th oldest facility of its kind still existing in the United States.
  • The Mausoleum was built in 1929, and contains 530 crypts
  • The first cremation at the Fairmount Crematory was March 17, 1891.  The deceased was Otto Koechert.


  • Established in 1856, designed by Capt. George F. de la Roche 
  • Has a section for animals called Petland
  • Some graves were transferred from the overcrowded city cemetery
  • Noted burials

o       Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke, 1903-1931, legendary jazz musician.
o       Joseph and William Bettendorf, brothers, inventors and founders of the Bettendorf Axel Company.
o       Paul N. Norton, 1909-1984, watercolor artist
o       Phebe Sudlow, 1831-1922, first female public school principal and superintendent in the United States; first female professor at the University of Iowa.
o       George L. Davenport, son of Col. George Davenport
o       Alice French, famous author under the pseudonym Octave Thanet
o       Orphans from the Iowa Soldier’s Orphans’ Home (the Annie Wittenmyer Home)

Mt. Nebo

  • Founded 1861 by the Jewish community
  • Used by B’nai Emeth and Temple Emanuel of Davenport  
  • located May Lane next to Fairmount Cemetery in West Davenport
  • Earliest burial noted in SC 977.769 Cem is 1903    

Pine Hill

  • Established by A.C. Fulton in the late 1860s
  • Former site of the only remaining native prairie plants in Scott County.  In 1972, the plants were transferred to the Scott County Park



Davenport City Council Minute Book, vol. 1, pp. 87-91.

History of Scott County, Iowa. (Chicago, Ill. : Inter-state Publishing Co.). 1882.

Svendsen, Marlys A.  Davenport, a pictorial history 1836-1986.  ([S.L.]: G. Bradley Publishing Inc.), 1985.

Wilkie, Franc Bangs.  Davenport, past and present.  (Davenport: Luce, Lane & Co.), 1858.


Dog License

First Dog Ordinance passed in City Council June 29, 1859. In 1875 City of Davenport Ordinance is found under Chapter 7. Any dog owner shall register a dog with the City Clerk, receive a brass or copper check, fasten check around dog’s neck. Check shall be numbered in the regular corresponding order of the registry book. 1875 charge was $1.30. By 1879, newspaper accounts list the City Marshal as the person to register dog licenses. In 1875, an owner who put a fake dog check on their dog would face a $5.00 fine. Dogs without checks could be shot on sight by the Marshal or police.


Electrical Utilities

Electric service was organized May 1, 1882

(Source:  Growing Up with the Tri-Cities – SC333.7932 Gro)


Turkey Notes: A Davenport Thanksgiving Tradition

Turkey Notes are said to date back to about 1890 (though this cannot be confirmed), and are considered to be strictly a local custom.

The origin of Turkey Notes is unknown. One theory is that a local family wrote them for a large Thanksgiving dinner, and the guests and/or the adult children took the idea home to use the following years. Another claims that German immigrants brought the tradition to Davenport and used it to celebrate their first truly American holiday. A third suggests that an enterprising teacher invented the Notes in order to keep her holiday-minded students under control.

However the first Turkey Note came to be written, there are now basic rules to be followed in creating new ones:

A Turkey Note is a short, three- or four-line poem, using “Turkey” as the first word of the first two lines. Purists use colors for the second word of these first lines, but this is not strictly necessary. The poem can be a compliment, an insult, or just funny (depending, of course, on your sense of humor):

Turkey Red,
Turkey Blue,
Turkey says,
“I love you!”


Turkey green,
Turkey yellow,
There’s always room
For pumpkin jello!


Turkey Samuel
Turkey Sam
Turkey cries, “Please choose the ham!”

The poem, which is usually left unsigned, is rolled into a tube and wrapped in colored paper, which is tied at both ends with string, yarn, or ribbon. These Turkey Notes are left by the side of each plate at Thanksgiving dinner or are passed out to friends, like Valentines.



Feeney, Bob. “Those Turkey Notes.” Times-Democrat. November 21, 1965.

Servison, Barbara. “’Turkey Notes’ Go From Bad to Verse.” Davenport Daily Times. November 15, 1962.

Wundram, Bill. “Turkey Notes simply won’t fade away.” Quad-City Times. November 24, 2002, p.A2.

Wundram, Bill. “Turkey Trot: You’re right– those notes are back again!” Quad-City Times. November 24, 1998, 2A.


Davenport Public Library Directors