The Davenport Levee: Come one, come all to the Owl Carnival!

With the creation of the Davenport Levee Commission in 1911 and the building of the seawall starting in 1912, life along the river front changed for Davenport citizens. Instead of a garbage filled area used mainly by boats loading and unloading goods, the river front became a place to visit as businesses and entertainment created an ever changing environment of work and fun.

Fairs, carnivals, sports, and musical entertainment became part of levee life. One well-known annual event became the Owl Carnival held yearly in the beginning of September.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, September 1, 1912. Pg. 10

This event was put on by the local fraternal chapter of the Order of Owls. Founded in 1904 in Indiana, the Owls motto was “Owls do good, speak kindly, shake hands warmly, and respect and honor their women.” They organized to help each other’s businesses, help people find jobs, assist widows and orphans, assist each other as needed, and gather for entertainment.

The Daily Times, September 2, 1912. Pg. 6

The carnival was promoted as a “clean” event that was suitable for the entire family. Besides the death-defying act of Madame Garcia and her automobile, there were the usual carnival games, shows, and acts put on by Snyder Greater United Shows.

The Daily Times, September 4, 1912. Pg. 9

A picture of the carnival was taken on September 3, 1912 showing the tents, cars, Ferris wheel, and more along the levee near Harrison Street in downtown Davenport.

Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Department. dplVM89-000084. Image of the Owl Carnival on the Davenport levee on September 3, 1912.

The image, taken by the Davenport Levee Commission, shows not only the carnival but also the levee wall. Recently completed, the wall was built by building a dirt dike along the harbor line away from the existing river bank. The levee wall was built with stone inside the sealed-off area with large stones hidden behind the rip rap design. Fill of dirt and garbage was also added farther in towards the original river bank. Raised to 15 feet, the new seawall helped expand the riverfront. The new level area being used for businesses to rent from the Levee Commission and entertainments such as the carnival.

Besides Madame Garcia, there was a high diving act, beauty contest that attendees could vote for a winner, a “City Circus”, and the “Texas Dancera”. The local fraternal organizations even hosted groups to attend the carnival. The Moose paid for local newsboys to spend the evening at the event on September 3rd. Much to the delight, we imagine, to the boys.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, September 3, 1912. Pg. 11

The event seemed to be an overwhelming success. The only issues being a few intoxicated carnival workers, the circus manager’s niece being diagnosed with Typhoid Fever, and one runaway girl from Muscatine being found after she ran away from home to see the carnival. Miss Rozella Carlton received over 10,000 votes to be named Carnival Queen over seventeen other contestants. Her prize, besides the title, was a $150 diamond ring.

The Democrat and Leader, September 8, 1912. Pg. 3

In all, the carnival was deemed a great success. And for many in the community, we are sure they viewed the new and improved levee as an even greater success.

(posted by Amy D.)

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Davenporters of Note: Jasper Eugene Wood

The Daily Times, Thursday, January 7, 1943.

Jasper E. Wood was born July 27, 1901, in Monmouth, Jackson Co., IA to Everett and Elsie Gertrude (Preston) Wood. His parents divorced soon after and his mom remarried and moved to Tipton, Cedar Co., IA. In 1920 he was living with his mom’s brother Benjamin Preston and his family at 1927 College Avenue in Davenport.

Jasper married Helen Dorothy Kirchner on March 25, 1922, in Davenport. The couple had one infant son die in 1927, a daughter named Beverly was born in 1928, and a son Warren was born in 1932.

In the 1920s he worked as an electrician for the Hummel Electric Shop at 104 E 2nd Street. He became business manager of Local No. 145, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Rock Island in June of 1930, a position he kept for 30 years. His career spanned the “Roaring ’20s”, the “Great Depression”, FDR’s New Deal, WWII, and the post-war boom.

Jasper E. Wood died on February 27, 1961, in his home at 2 Cedar Place in Davenport. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

Boards, Commissions, Committees, etc.

J.E. Wood was a well-respected civic leader and volunteered or was elected/appointed to several boards, commissions, committees, and citizens’ advisory groups:

  • Appointed to the Davenport Recreation Commission in May of 1931 as the representative from the Labor unions.
  • Building Trades Council secretary, 1931 and president, 1956
  • FERA Workers Wage Committee, 1934
  • Citizens’ Committee for the Purchase of the Water Works, 1936
  • Appointed secretary of the Scott County Draft Board #2 in 1940 and president in 1945
  • United War and Community Chest Appeal, 1942
  • “Labor for Victory” celebration committee, 1942
  • Quad-City War Transportation Committee, 1942
  • Elected financial secretary of the Tri-City Federation of Labor in 1943
  • Workers Recruitment Committee, 1943
  • Delegate to the Republican State Conclave, 1944
  • V-J Day Community Celebration Committee, 1945
  • Tri-City Labor Review board member, 1945 and president, 1949
  • State of Scott social committee, 1947
  • Labor Building planning committee, 1949
  • Davenport Airport Commission, 1950
  • Davenport Chamber of Commerce housing and traffic control/off-street parking committees, 1951
  • County Courthouse Citizens Advisory Committee, 1951 and dedication committee, 1956
  • Named to the planning committee for new lighting system in Downtown Davenport, 1954
  • Scott County Grand Jury panel, 1958
  • Named to the executive board of the newly merged Quad-City Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, 1959
Davenport Democrat, Monday, October 19, 1942.
Davenport Democrat and Leader, Wednesday, March 1, 1961.

Spokesperson for Labor Unions

J.E. Wood was quoted in the local newspapers several times throughout his career.

On the wage controversy between union electricians of the Tri-Cities and electrical contractors in 1936:

Union electricians of the Tri-Cities have cooperated with the contractors and with the public to the fullest extent. Perhaps, the public does not know that several years ago, the hourly wage rate for union electricians of the Tri-Cities was $1.30. During the various stages of the so-called depression the union has voluntarily accepted wage reductions until their scale had been reduced to 90 cents per hour. At no time were these reductions forced upon the union but they were accepted in a a spirit of cooperation in the hope that the sacrifice on the part of the men might, in some manner, assist in stimulating the industry. That the sacrifice was in vain and no appreciable difference was noted, will be testified to by the men employed in the electrical industry and by every unprejudiced contractor. But the action of the men indicated clearly that they have an intense interest in the development of the industry in which they have spent many years perfecting themselves. But let it be understood that with each wage reduction made, there was a clear understanding on the part of the contractors and the union that they were only temporary in nature and would be restored at first indication that the industry was back on a somehere-near normal basis.

The past 18 months have seen a decided change for the better in the electrical business, yet the men have received up to May 1, but 15 cents of the 40 cents per hour they had voluntarily sacrificed from their pay envelopes.

On May 1, 1936, employment conditions in the electrical industry had been restored to such a basis that the union felt justified in asking that they again receive a return of some portion of the pay cuts given. They, at no time, insisted on an immediate restoration of the full amount that they had voluntarily given up but after negotiations with a duly accredited representative, an agreement was made fixing the wage scale at $1.10 per hour from May 1 until Oct 1, 1936 and after Oct 1, 1936, fixing it at $1.15 which left it still 15 cents less per hour than the former wage scale of the union.

Surely no one can say that the electricians have assumed an unreasonable attitude in this matter. The statement of certain contractors that the change in the wage scale will seriously embarrass those contractors who have WPA contracts, in our opinion is without foundation of fact. Every contractor was aware that on May 1, 1936 the union would ask for a restoration of at least a part of the wage reduction. If they failed to make a provision for this, responsibility rests with them, not with the union. However, permit me to say, that when we accepted wage reductions, our members too had made obligations based upon the old wage scale and that was a problem that we, as workes had to solve. There is not now, and never has been, any intention upon the part of the Electrical Workers union to impose upon their employers or the public an unjust or unreasonable wage rate, but our members are expert workmen. They have spent years in acquiring this skill as craftsmen. Their employment is spasmodic. They have long periods of idleness and as result, they must receive at least a living wage.

At the present time, practically every member is working. The industry is enjoying healthy conditions and there is no reason why the electricians, who have sacrificed so much, should not, in a small measure, at least, participate in this prosperity.

J.E. Wood, business agent for the Electrical Workers’ union. The Daily Times, May 28, 1936

On the Davenport Schools bond issue election in 1938:

We are anxious to get the new school program going because it means so much for the general welfare of the community. It will be a big means toward relieving the unemployment situation, which vitally concerns all of us.

The fact that only local labor will be employed should not be overlooked. The money which will accrue to the workers will eventially find an outlet in all channels of trade, it will mean more business and more prosperity for Davenport. Assuredly, the proposed bond issue should be ratified. Davenport will miss a golden opportunity not to take advantage of the offer of federal funds and other favorable conditions for building at this time.

J.E. Wood, Davenport. Business Agent Tri-City Electrical Workers’ Union. Davenport Democrat, September 23, 1938

On the U.S. War Bond selling campaign in 1943:

Labor needs no prodding to do its full share in lending its earnings and savings to the government in this campaign.

Local unions were among the first of our community organizations to pledge their support when Secretary Morgenthau sounded the call for defense funds. We began buying War Bonds. Soon we acted individually and as unions to build the payroll savings army. Now we are ready for even greater service. Our money is in this fight.

There has never been the slightest friction between organized labor and employers on the question of war financing. We have worked together in closest harmony in setting up labor management committees to sign up workers for payroll savings even when we have had differences on occasion on other matters.

The Second War Loan drive becomes a first among our union duties starting today. Members of all our unions are either on the production front or on the battle lines. Many of our members have already felt the sting of enemy fire. We honor the service of union men as soldiers by lending our money to provide the weapons of war.

Labor is being called upon to turn out a record crop of fighting weapons. Labor’s equally important job is to lend every cent possible to the government to prosecute the war until the Axis is smashed.

We all know unions have disappered under Hitlerism. Only in a free world can men and women have the right to band together for self betterment. Starting today local workers who are on the payroll savings plans will reaffirm their answer to Hitlerism by participating in the Second War Loan campaign to the full extent of their abilities.

Every check I have made on the situation shows that we are not in a silk shirt spending spree mood. Our earnings are being put into necessary medical attention, essential home repairs and war bonds.

It is this sober realization of the facts in this war crisis that will influence our workers to tighten their belts and put every penny they can possible spare above the base cost of living into government securities.

While it is a nice feeling to know that these securities pay handsome interest and provice a nestegg for the future, I believe that the prime motive inpiring American workers to respond to the government’s War Loan appeals is patriotism. American workers know they are helping to bring victory nearer when they sign up in the April drive. They know money is a soldier, too. Workers in this community will do their duty.

J.E. Wood, secretary and treasurer of the Tri-City Federation of Labor. The Daily Times, April 12, 1943

On the proposed Davenport Municipal Airport in 1943:

The Daily Times, Friday, January 22, 1943.
The Daily Times, Thursday, April 6, 1950.

(posted by Cristina)

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Davenport in Iowa City and Des Moines

In order to answer questions about the history of Davenport and its people, our reference staff might call upon resources outside the RSSC Center’s own collections and those of other historical organizations in the immediate area.

The State Historical Society of Iowa, based in Des Moines, is one of the repositories to which we most often refer our researchers. Fortunately, the Society has described (and even made available) many of its collection materials online. You can use these tools to discover information about Davenport and Scott County history for yourself.

The Library/Research Center Catalog, listed under History > Research > Online Catalogs on the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs website (, is actually a search of the University of Iowa Libraries’ extensive InfoHawk information retrieval system automatically limited to materials held at the SHSI Research Centers in both Des Moines and Iowa City.

A keyword search for “davenport iowa” returns 53 items under the subject “Labor unions,” for example, a topic not as well-represented in the RSSC Center’s own collection.

If you go directly to the University of Iowa’s InfoHawk+ catalog (, you can retrieve many more references to sources on Davenport, including newspaper and journal articles, maps, images, dissertations, government documents, and even some online texts and data sets available through the University’s subscription databases (the general public can see items labeled “open access”). In addition to materials available in the two Historical Libraries, you will find those held by the Law Library, Special Collections, and the Iowa Women’s Archives.

Links to digital issues of The State Historical Society of Iowa’s serial publications The PalimpsestIowa Heritage Illustrated, and The Annals of Iowa can be found under History > Research > Publications. A keyword search of “davenport” in the Annals of Iowa returns articles like these:

Use the Museum Objects Catalog under History > Research > Online Catalogs (click on the “museum collection” link in the brown “Museum” box in the lower left corner) to find material culture items such as this cream pitcher featuring an image of Davenport’s city hall, or

products manufactured in Davenport in the 1920’s: a clothes washer from the Voss Washing Machine Company and

a table radio made by the Tri-City Radio and Electric Supply Company.

On the same page, in the lower right corner, there is a purple “Special Collections” search box. The Society is still adding records to this database, but for now, a search for “Davenport” returns images like this one from the Photograph Collections M2A at the Iowa City Research Center:

And newspaper clippings about Davenport soldiers in WWII:

The blue “Archives” search is still under construction, too, but here you will soon be able to retrieve references to state-produced documents about Davenport. The red “Library” search draws from entries in the Library/Research Center Catalog/InfoHawk+.

What else can you find out about Davenport (try Scott County, too) in the State Historical Society of Iowa catalogs and collection listings? Of course, we are always available here at the RSSC Center to help you navigate these search tools and get you to the local history information you need!

(posted by Katie)

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SPECIAL EVENT!! SPECIAL EVENT!! #Iowa175 Celebration!!

#Iowa175 Celebration at The Library | MAIN this Thursday, August 19th from 4:30-7:30 PM, kicking off the Alternating Currents weekend with a fun event of history, music, and culture celebrating the 175th anniversary of Iowa’s statehood! This free event features Charcuterie Boards designed by area shops showcasing their Iowa specialties for your sampling and purchasing pleasure. Joining us for the evening will be:

Oh So Sweet by Tiphanie
Cookies and Dreams
Fox and Honey
Chill Ice Cream and Eats
Chocolate Manor
MAD Bakery
Out on A Limb Pie Co.
Iron and Grain Coffee
HyVee of Bettendorf

Hy Vee will demonstrate how to create  Charcuterie Boards featuring Iowa specialties at 6 PM.  Music courtesy of QC Beats artists, Soultru and Poor Bill, can be enjoyed 4:30-6 PM.  Our terrific vendors, photo ops, book and historic displays featuring 175 years of Davenport and Iowa, and kids’ crafts make this a must-attend family event! And it is ALL FREE!

Image of a party hat for the event, orgami goldie, stickers, sample of a raft craft, and the event’s charcuterie board.

Register through Eventbrite at or use the QR code:

Come to the event to take part in:



(posted by Karen)

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Ghost Towns of Scott County, Iowa: The town of Bethany

We must admit, our title may be a little bit misleading as the town of Bethany in Scott County, Iowa most likely should fall under the category of the town that never was. But the story of Bethany has inspired us to look into local ghost towns for future blogs.

Thomas McGovern platted the town of Bethany on February 5, 1855 in Scott County, Iowa land records. Located on the west side of Hickory Grove Road in what is now northwest Davenport, it contained five streets running east to west with each block having an alley. In total, there were fourteen lots in Bethany. The town was platted between Hickory Grove Road and the railroad tracks not far from the area known as Five Points. As for the name Bethany? The reason McGovern chose the name seems to have been lost not too long after the town was founded.

1857 Hogane & Lambach Map

By 1921, the town was surrounded by the city of Davenport as it expanded its city limits. Bethany had never been developed, no city government existed, and those in northwest Davenport claimed that the area rarely had more than one house on the property. Sometimes the resident population of Bethany was one or maybe a few more depending on the size of the family on the property at any given time.

Combined Atlases of Scott County, Iowa, 1894.

Even land records varied with how the name was recorded. Sometimes Town of Bethany was used while other times it was recorded as Bethany Addition as when Max A. Giersch and wife sold Mrs. Lizzie Jessen lots 1, 2, 3, and 4 in March 1915 for just over $5,000.

By 1921, Mrs. Jessen and real estate businessman Thomas Agar (who owned the rest of the town lots) had a wish to dissolve the town of Bethany. They petitioned the district court in August of that year to vacate the plat of the town and give Jessen and Agar title to the streets and alleys in addition to the lots they owned.

The story of Bethany spread across the state of Iowa via newspapers. People were fascinated by the story of the state’s smallest town that never really was a town. On September 19, 1921, the petition appeared in district court and was approved.

The land eventually was annexed into the City of Davenport and is today part of the Golden Gate Park Addition which was accepted by Davenport City Council in June 1929. The main road in the subdivision, besides Hickory Grove Road, is Frisco Road.

Plat Map of the City of Davenport, Iowa c. 1940s.

We hope to one day discover the meaning behind the name of Bethany. In the meantime, we will be searching out other ghost towns and lost cities of Scott County to share with you all.

(posted by Amy D.)


  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader, March 4, 1915. Pg. 12
  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader, August 14, 1921. Pg. 14
  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader, September 8, 1921. Pg. 4
  • The Daily Times, September 24, 1921. Pg. 7
  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader, September 25, 1921. Pg. 21
  • Plat Map of the City of Davenport, Iowa. c 1940s. Pg. 10
  • Combined Atlases of Scott County, Iowa, 1882, 1894, 1905, 1915.
  • James T. Hogane & H. Lambach Map, 1857.

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A Pitbull’s Pedigree

“Gosch’s White Pit Battler” The Daily Times, October 20, 1906

Inspired by “Mr. Worldwide” Pitbull’s performance this weekend at the Great Mississippi Valley Fair we set out to find other notable Quad-City “pit bull” terriers. We found a nice photo of a registered pup owned by William Henry Gosch in 1906.

First, a little bit about the owner:

William Henry Gosch was born on June 15, 1879 in Davenport to Henry and Anna (Waspi) Gosch. He was a private in Co. B of the 50th Iowa Infantry during the Spanish-American War. He worked in his father’s meat market at Third and Oak Streets. William married Kathryn Ann LaMar on January 7, 1903 in Davenport and Carolyn Kindle on February 3, 1915. He was the organizer of the Davenport Boat Club and was its first commodore in 1908. He was Alderman-at-Large from 1910 – 1917. He was employed at the Rock Island Arsenal starting in 1917 as a toolmaker, joined the file department in 1934, and finally as a guard. William H. Gosch died January 19, 1935 at his home 1615 Marquette Street.

Butch and his ancestors:

“Butch” was whelped on September 18, 1905 out of “Sadie Mac” by “Robinson’s Pat” in Topeka, Kansas by breeder James F. McCabe. Butch was registered in the American Kennel Club Stud Book vol. 23 and assigned the number 96103. Other dogs in his pedigree were “General”, “Bob Tail Bob,” “Nell,” “Turk,” “Old Paddy,” and “Old Turk.”

Butch’s mom “Sadie Mac” was whelped June 9, 1902 out of “Spry Girl” by “Major” in Croton, Ohio by breeder H.R.P. Miller. Other dogs in her pedigree were “Lady Spry,” “Jack the Ripper,” “The Queen,” “Chicago Girl,” “Old Watch,” “Maud,” and “Miss Beauty.”

We made this pedigree chart with the information from the American Kennel Club Stuf Book Register, vols. 22 & 23, 1905-1906.


Butch’s great-grandpa “Bob Tail Bob” was kind of a big deal: Colby’s Bob Tail Bob

(posted by Cristina)

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The Amazons of Davenport

Earlier this month, local officials confirmed e-commerce giant Amazon’s plans to build a robotics fulfillment center west of the Davenport Municipal Airport. This is not the first time, however, an enterprise with the name “Amazon” has done business in this city.

Advertisement from the Davenport Daily Times, 25 Nov 1905

In the year 1882, William M. Smith, L. Wahle, and B. H. Raphael incorporated the Amazon Vinegar & Pickling Works with $50K in capital and a facility in southwest Davenport reported to be the “largest in the state.” Smith had been manufacturing vinegar since 1871 in partnership with Edwin Fay; the pair also made paper and bags. In August 1880, however, the “most destructive fire known in Davenport in a year” ravaged the Fay & Smith buildings at 122-126 E Front St (River Drive), and Smith began focusing his energies on reviving the vinegar part of the business on his own.

Davenport Daily Times, 22 Jan 1917

In 1884, W.M. Smith sold his interest in the works to Frank W. Smith (unrelated), but remained its business manager until 1886, when he left to run a farm in Butler Township. He retired and returned to Davenport in 1901, passing away in January 1917. He was the father of thirteen children (m. 1863 to Clara Goetsch) and a veteran of the Civil War, having served the Union Army in the 20th Iowa Infantry, Co. C, in the battles at Prairie Grove, Vicksburg, and Fort Blakely.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, Davenport, Iowa, 1886 (Library of Congress)

Despite fires, cold snaps, thefts, battles with railroad companies, and nuisance complaints (calls to clean up the “filth” that had accumulated in the slough behind the factory in 1889), the Amazon Vinegar & Pickling Works, while “not a gold mine,” remained “one of the solid and substantial industries of Davenport” into the twentieth century under the management of F. W. “Vinegar” Smith.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, Davenport, Iowa, 1892 (Library of Congress)
Advertising Cards – Postcard Collection – PC 010
Advertisement from the Half-Century Democrat, 22 Oct 1905
Davenport Democrat and Leader, 6 Jan 1919

Entrepreneur Janet Burgess began a mail-order period costume pattern business in Davenport in the 1980s. She chose to repurpose the Amazon Vinegar & Pickling Works name and logo from the original company’s stationery (if only we had a sample in our collections!), adding “drygoods” at the end:

Ephemera collection – Business and Industry – Amazon Drygoods catalog, Summer 1988

A “fitting” heir to the Amazon run by two Smiths who served in the Civil War, Burgess specialized in fashions from that time period for re-enactors! In explaining in her catalog why she took on the Amazon name, she made sure her customers knew “any resemblance to the owner’s stature or temperament is purely intentional.”

(posted by Katie)

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Food Fantasies

Do you associate particular foods with specific events or places? I was watching the Wimbledon tennis tournament and immediately wanted strawberries and cream. Viewing the John Deere Classic golf tournament on TV made me recall the delicious pork chop sandwiches I used to enjoy many years ago when I attended. A Facebook group I belong to from my hometown often brings up longings for the wonderful chocolate rolls we all adored from our little town bakery, lamenting where the recipe might be found.

Davenport and the Quad City area can boast foodie favorites, too. Before Riefe’s restaurant closed a few years ago, we loved to order their fried chicken and evidently they were also famous for their Key Lime Pie. I found the recipe in one of the cookbooks in our collection, Davenport/Central Centennial Cookbook published in 2004.

Who remembers Bishop Buffets? My father loved to go there. My favorite was this dessert!

Although undated, there are several recipes “submitted by Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of President John Kennedy” leading  one to narrow a publishing date of 1961-1963 for The Green Tree Cook Book.

Another restaurant going strong in the 1960s was the Plantation, later known as Velie’s, across the river in Moline. Evidently their salad dressing was to-die for. There have been a lot of copycat recipes, but this one seems pretty authentic, and Mrs. Graham signed her name to it! I found it in The Best of the Open Line Bulletin – August 1963.


1-pint mayonnaise
1 bottle creamy French dressing
1 can grated Romano cheese
2 chopped garlics
½ tube anchovy paste

Mix in blender and store in refrigerator. (This is the recipe for the dressing used in the Plantation Restaurant in Moline Illinois.) Use dressing on mixed lettuce, radishes and tomatoes. Just before serving, break in melba toast and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. (Mrs. Ivan Graham, Davenport, Ia.)

In a 2003 fundraising effort to build a branch library on the west side of Davenport (Fairmount Library) the Davenport Public Library Staff pulled together some history and recipes for this cookbook, including favorites from some local restaurants. This popular recipe was also shared in a 2015 Bill Wundram Quad City Times newspaper column where credit was given to Helen Stoefen, who apparently worked at Petersen’s Tea Room and made the spread for years. Evidently the spread was served on “toast points”. The tasty spot was located in the basement of the building we now know as the Redstone.

According to a handwritten history in our collection (#2010-11 History of a Davenport Neighborhood by Ruth Peters) Walcher’s Bakery was located on the southwest corner of 8th and Marquette. In another Quad City Times Wundram piece, this time from 2014, he was describing things he missed.

“THE LITTLE BAKERIES that were here and there on corners of our towns. Downtown Davenport had luscious places like the Bon Ton and Federal Bake Shop. Out in the neighborhoods, there were places like Walcher’s Bakery, which made the best cream horns in all the universe. Bakeries like Walcher’s were so friendly that they would bake a ham for your Easter dinner in their big ovens and not charge you a dime.”

We didn’t locate a cream horn recipe (darn!) but did include one for Walcher’s German Black Bread in our little cookbook.

Shannon’s Restaurant was before my time in Davenport, operating from 1916-1979 at 116 West Third Street however many on our staff raved about it. We included six recipes from Shannon’s in our Novel Cuisine cookbook, but I stumbled upon another that was published in a Dispatch-Argus “Curious Cook” column by Liz Meegan in 2008. 

Shannon’s Pea Salad

2 cans (16 ounces each) peas, drained
2 to 3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup sweet relish
1/2 to 3/4 cup cubed Cheddar cheese
Miracle Whip, 1/2 cup or more if needed for taste

Just mix all together (the first five ingredients), and add the Miracle Whip.

I can vouch for the last recipe from our cookbook as I made it right away in 2003! I honestly can’t recall if I stored it in a glass jar with a rubber ring under the lid, though.

Do any of the above seem familiar? What old favorites do you find yourself hungering for? Maybe the recipe is awaiting you right here in the cookbook collection at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center. Now excuse me please. I’m off to try Shannon’s Pea Salad recipe for supper!

(Submitted by Karen)


SC 641.5 DAV Davenport/Central Centennial Cookbook (2004)

SC 641.5 GRE   The Green Tree Cook Book by Le Claire Civic Club Auxiliary   Le Claire, Iowa (1960s)

SC 641.5 NOV   Novel Cuisine  by Davenport Public Library (2003)

The Best of the Open Line Bulletin – August 1963. Accessed July 15, 2021 


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Pie Eating – Davenport Playground Style

Almost 60 years ago, 40 youngsters with empty stomachs prepared for a contest of feasting upon desserts of apple, cherry, boysenberry, or pineapple. We found this playful article while we were doing research and knew we had to write about it. As a plus, we were delighted to connect this article to a collection we have of The Daily Times negatives. The Davenport, Iowa Daily Times Newspaper Morgue Collection holds thousands of images taken by the staff of The Daily Times in the early 1960s of a variety of events and places they reported on. During this time period Davenport’s two major newspapers, The Daily Times and The Democrat and Leader, merged to form the Times-Democrat. Some issues of the newspapers published had headers stating The Daily Times or the Times-Democrat.

In the article, three young Davenporters, Decker Ploehn, Pat Duffy, and Tom Genz are featured testing out their pie-eating skills at Garfield Playground. They, unfortunately, did not win the prize: a ribbon and a pie. It appears that they had fun and left satisfied. The fastest eater was Phil Kent who “downed the whole pie in exactly 53 seconds.” He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Kent of 3103 Middle Road.

“Pie Eating – Davenport Playground Style.” The Daily Times. August 13, 1962, page 19.

Photographs by Bob Swanson of The Daily Times, Davenport, Iowa

“Decker Ploehn anxiously watches the timekeeper as he downs a large piece of pie. Watching his technique are other boys and girls whose turns were still coming up.”
“Halfway through his wedge of pie, little Pat Duffy has to stop to chew and catch his breath as playmates do their best to distract him.”
“A systematic pie eater is Tom Genz. He took small, but rapid, bites and appeared unmindful that he was racing against the clock. Time still came out in the Garfield Playground contest as one capable of completing a full meal in a half-hour lunch period.”

We traced the popularity of pie-eating contests through the pages and years of the newspaper from 1905 to 1991. In the photo gallery below, we would like to share some fun events featuring activities of devouring this versatile dessert. They range from school and employee picnics to festivals and fairs.

We would like to delight your taste buds and inspire you to have your own pie-eating contests with recipes from our Local Cookbook Collection. We attempted to select recipes based on the four flavors from the 1962 Davenport Playground Style Pie-Eating Contest. The only recipe we were unable to find was one for boysenberry.


“Pie Eating – Davenport Playground Style” The Daily Times vol. 76, August 13, 1962, page 19

(Posted by Kathryn and Cristina)

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Summer Living: The Summer Porch

We’ve been enjoying cool breezes the past two days after a streak of hot and humid Midwestern weather. This unexpected cool down has brought many of us outside to enjoy the fresh air away from our air conditioned homes.

All that fresh air had our minds turning back to the days before air conditioning was standard in houses, apartments, and businesses. The time when outdoor porches became an extra living space in warm weather.

As Davenport expanded in the late 1800s into the early 1900s, people moved farther away from downtown with its apartment buildings and small houses built close together. They moved north towards Locust Street and into the hills of East Davenport. These developing areas provided shady trees, houses spread further apart, and the ability to catch a breeze was a little easier than the more crowded downtown area.

These new subdivisions featured houses with front porches that were covered against sun and rain. With chairs, tables, shades, plants, and rugs added during the summer months; it became an oasis from the stuffier rooms inside.

Larger homes built by wealthier residents featured not only front porches, but sun rooms and back patios as well to relax or entertain in.

Fortunately for us, it was also a wonderful place to have photos taken with natural light so their beauty has been preserved in photographs. We thought we would share a few images from our collection to remember this warm weather living space.

Mrs. Mary Burdick of 105 College Avenue is featured in her home’s sun room or rear porch. Her husband, Anthony Burdick, was president of the First National Bank in Davenport. Taken about 1910, this photo shows a well-to-do home with separate seating and work areas and curtained windows or screens. The modern address is 833 College Avenue.

Mrs. Anthony Burdick c. 1910. DPLVolume 55. Image dplx535b.

Mr. & Mrs. Julius Hasler had their photo taken on their porch between 1901 and 1908. Located at 1002 Brady Street, you can see the details of a brick porch column and the large window that would have allowed air and sunlight into the home.

Hanging swings were very popular as they not only allowed for swinging and enjoying a summer breeze, but also were found to be easy to clean under and store in the winter months. Seat cushions and pillows made the swing a pleasant place to relax.

Plants (especially ferns) were frequently found on porches as they added color, nature, and a little privacy if strategically placed on railings.

The Hasler home was torn down in 1920 with the expansion of the Palmer Chiropractic College campus.

Julius and Josephine Hasler c. 1901 – 1908. DPLVolume 32. Image dplx529-4.

The picture of what appears to be a mother and young infant is labeled as belonging to George McCandless. It most likely dates to circa 1910 and is a wonderful examples of a middle class family in Davenport at that time. The picture window on the right of the image is smaller than that of the Hasler family. Possibly indicating a newer built home or a home of more modest means.

The porch swing is well padded with a cushion and pillow. Besides the woman and child, the wooden shade is a main focus of the picture for researchers. These shades were extremely popular in the early twentieth century as they could be raised and lowered depending on the needs of the family. Linden wood and bamboo were two popular materials used for porch shades.

Porch shades were very popular in neighborhoods where the houses might be located closer together. They provided privacy, but also allowed for air and light to circulate on the porch. Shades also gave protection from glaring sunlight during the brightest part of the day.

Photo of woman and infant labeled George McCandless c. 1910. DPLVolume 57. Image dplx54..

We feel certain that parents loved a large porch in the summer (or maybe year round) for growing children. A place for them to play, read, or relax outside of the house. This picture of the E. A. Young family shows four children on a roomy porch.

The door on the right rear of the photo indicates the porch was most likely screened making the summer nights even more enjoyable without mosquitoes and flies joining your gathering.

Well placed area rugs could be swept clean while allowing a comfortable place for children to play. The furniture is placed against the walls of the house to allow for greater space.

The size of the porch indicates it most likely was part of a larger family residence. We aren’t sure if the size of the porch or the hair bows impressed us more.

E. A. Young family. ca. 1912. DPLVolume 71. Image dplx696a.

We thought we would end with this picture of Lavonius W. Petersen and his wife, Annette. This couple had their photo taken about 1905 at about the ages of 77 and 74. They are pictured in a peaceful setting surrounded by plants and trees with a comfortable rug beneath their feet while relaxing on a beautifully crafted porch. While we know the couple lived at 530 Western Avenue, we do not know if the picture was taken there or not as no porch exists today at that location.

This couple, who had raised seven children with three surviving in the 1900 United States Census, look as though they had earned the right to relax in this beautiful setting and reflect on their many years and experiences together.

L. W. Petersen ca. 1905. DPLVolume 51. Image dplx490.

We hope you have a chance to enjoy this beautiful summer weather and maybe have created an oasis of your own to enjoy. Remember to take a picture to save for future generations!

(Posted by Amy D.)

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