WHO'S WHO 1940: SCOTT COUNTY
By REVEREND CHARLES E. SNYDER, Litt. D.
Published by Iowa Press Association, Des Moines, Iowa, 1940
ON the fifteenth of September, 1832, there occurred on historical occasion on the open prairie near the western shore-line of the Mississippi, where Farnam and East Fifth Streets intersect in the City of Davenport today. The second day of August previously had seen the tragic end of Blackhawk's justified but badly advised uprising against the white invaders of his tribe's lands, when he had been finally defeated in the bottle on The Bad Axe up near Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. The old chief was not present at the meeting on September fifteenth, although the result of that meeting is generally called "The Blackhawk Purchase". He was a prisoner at Prairie du Chien. General Winfield Scott and Governor J. W. Reynolds of Illinois met with Keokuk and other chiefs of the Souks and the Fox and negotiated the agreement for the purchase of about six million acres of land, at a price which averaged about nine cents an acre.
The "Blackhawk" treaty was ratified by the congress during the winter of 1833. No provision was made, and no right was given, for settlers to enter into the territory; indeed such settlement was expressly forbidden by an earlier statute. Thereon hung a dispute which resulted in a lawsuit and one of the earliest decisions by the supreme court of the new territory of Iowa in 1839. That decision was of tremendous importance as it opened the way for the permanent occupancy of the settler's claims, and for their rights of occupancy when invaded by the squatter and the speculator.
The first settler in the area, now Scott County, was Benjamin W. Clark, a native of Virginia. He moved over from what is now Andalusia, Illinois, in June, 1833, and started the settlement of Buffalo, first known as Clark's Ferry, a profitable enterprise. He took up some claims, later bought some others, until he had claim to two and a quarter miles along the river. In 1834 Captain Clark bought a claim of John Spencer up the river at the mouth of Duck Creek .and started the first sawmill in Scott County; he sold it in 1837. Other settlers came to Clark's Ferry and in May, 1836, Clark and two partners, E. A. Mix and a Dr. Pillsbury of Buffalo, New York, platted the town of Buffalo, Iowa, which started out to be the big town on the west side of the river. The tradition is that some legislative legerdermain gave Davenport, started in 1836, the advantage.
In 1833, Robert H. Spencer, a Vermonter, came across the river from what is now Hampton, Ill., (originally Milan) and built a cabin 'which started Valley City, later Pleasant Valley.
In 1835, Antoine LeClaire, the French Indian trader and interpreter for the United States government, on Rock Island, bought a claim on the west side of the river from the two original claimants (Spencer and McCloud who couldn't agree as to which one had prior claim to it) for $150.00. On the evening of February 15, 1836, six men met at the home of Colonel George Davenport on The Island and formed a partnership to take over the half section of this claim at a-valuation of two thousand dollars, with the purpose of starting a town destined to be called Davenport. The men were Le Claire, Davenport, Alexander McGregor, Major William Gordon, Levi S. Colton and Philip G. Hambaugh. Two others, Major Thomas Smith, a former commandant of Fort Armstrong, and James May, a steamboat man from Pittsburgh, were also partners; and their signatures were attached to the agreement by Col. Davenport for May and by LeClaire for Smith. The eight were to share equally in the holding which was adjacent to the west boundary of the section which was given to Antoine LeClaire and his wife, Marguerite, by the insistence of Keokuk that September day in 1832, when the Blackhawk purchase was consummated. This was done in recognition of all that the LeClaires had done for the Sauks, of whom Mrs. LeClaire was one on her mother's side. It was stipulated, according to the story, that LeClaire was to build his home on the spot where the treaty was made, which he did the next year. It was the first house in what was to become Davenport. LeClaire occupied it for many years. Then when the railroad got going west from Davenport, he gave it to the Mississippi and Missouri for their first station. It is now preserved on the Rock Island right-of-way, at Pershing avenue and East Fifth street, a centenarian reminder of a great man, Antoine LeClaire, to whom Davenport owes mare for what it is today than to any other man. Evidently he was a wise, generous, kindly, far-seeing, adventurous gentleman, who fostered the city named for his friend, Davenport. Up the river is the little city of LeClaire on the section also given to him and his wife by the Sauks.
Other settlers seeped in and built their cabins. In February, 1834, George W. Harlan followed R: H. Spencer into Pleasant Valley. In the winter of 1833-34 J. B. Chamberlin of Pennsylvania, moved into the cabin built by Spencer, and his family became the first white family in the neighborhood. In the spring of 1834 he built his own cabin at the mouth of Crow Creek. In March of thirty-four, a son was born to the Chamberlins, about the same time a boy was born in the Clark home at Clark's Ferry; it is difficult from the records to say positively which had the honor of being the first white child born in Scott County, but the evidence seems to point to the Chamberlin.son, who died, as did his mother, in 1837.
The first claim staked out was one in what is now the east end of Davenport and the west end of Bettendorf, by George L. Davenport, the young son of Col. George Davenport. The house built on that claim is said to have been the first frame house in Davenport; it is now included in the residence at 1329 College avenue. Next east of the Davenport claim was one by Dr. John Emerson, army surgeon at Rock Island, who owned a [inappropriate words omitted] known as Dred Scott. When Fort Armstrong was abandoned in 1836, Dr. Emerson was sent to Fort Snelling. Dred Scott was taken along into territory where by law there could be no slavery. Dr. Emerson resigned from the army in the early part of 1843 and came back to Davenport to live and to practice his profession. He bought five lots and started to build a residence at 219 East Second street; but the "quick consumption" got hold of him and he died in the night of December 29-30, 1843, before his new house was ready for occupancy. He made a will the night before he died, leaving all of his property to his wife, Eliza Irene Sanford Emerson, to hold for their month-old daughter, Henrietta. That property included a [inappropriate word omitted] called Dred Scott and his wife, Harriet, and two daughters; and the war between the States was embedded in that single will which was recorded in Scott County, where the original is preserved.
James McIntosh and D. C. Eldridge came to Davenport in 1836 and became the first merchants. Col. George Davenport and Antoine LeClaire built the first hotel that year, a long log structure, on Front street near Ripley. A guest there for a time in 1836 was one Ansel Briggs, a Vermonter, who had stopped a few years in Ohio where he married. He was in the stagecoach and mail-carrying business and attended to his own horses in some pioneer stables down near that first hotel. Later in the year he went to Andrew up in Jackson County. Ten years later, in 1846, he became the first governor of the new state of Iowa. In May of 1836, the claim held by the eight partners was surveyed by Major William Gordon and platted, the same month that Buffalo was platted.
That year saw political and governmental changes. The region that we know as Wisconsin, and the region west of the Mississippi, were part of the territory of Michigan, which was admitted as a state in 1836; and the territory of Wisconsin was set up by federal enactment in April of that year to take effect on July 4th. Two counties west of the river had been provided by the Michigan territorial legislative-Dubuque and Des Moines. The dividing line ran due west from the mouth of the Rock River. That put the new Davenport in Dubuque County and Clark's Ferry in Des Moines County. The first Wisconsin legislature meeting at Belmont divided Des Moines County into several smaller ones. There were no surveys and the new counties were made by guess work. The northernmost was called Cook County in honor of Ira Cook, Sr. It turned out to be only three or four miles across from top to bottom; it is now the southern part of Scott County, which was created by the second territorial Wisconsin legislature by enactment December 21, 1837, which cut up Dubuque County and erased the new Cook County from the map. The population was 1,252; by the census of 1840 it was 2,140.
Davenport was granted a charter by the Second territorial legislature in 1839, by virtue of which Rodolphus Bennett was elected as the first mayor, or recorder, as the office was designated.
West of Davenport J. C. -Sullivan and H. C. Moorhead built a steam flour mill late in 1834, where the community of Rockingham was to grow up. Other settlers followed pretty rapidly then and Rockingham challenged Davenport for supremacy until the - bitterly fought contest for. the county seat was finally decided in favor of the latter in 1840, and the most of Rockingham moved to Davenport. Its territory is now a part of the latter city. Among those settlers was Dr. E. S. Barrows, who came from Vermont, and who lived to be over ninety years old. He used to say that at first he was the only physician between Dubuque and Burlington, north and south, and between the Mississippi and the Pacific Ocean, east and west.
A. H. Davenport was another early resident in Rockingham. He bought Credit Island from the federal government in 1834, and with his father, Marmaduke Davenport, Indian Agent in Rock Island, settled down there. A Davenport baby born in August, 1834, was the third white child born in the county. Mr. Davenport later moved to LeClaire. Col. John Sullivan came from Zanesville, Ohio, to Rockingham in 1836.
The supervisors at a meeting April 3rd, 1838, held in Rockingham, set off and appointed six polling places for the county at Rockingham, Davenport, West Buffalo, Pleasant Valley, Elizabeth City, and Allen's Grove. At a meeting on May 8th, Parkhurst was added. There were no townships until 1846. At the January session of the board, on the tenth, in that year, the seven townships were set up, generally coincident with the precincts previously provided, with some minor changes. The original township of Davenport has been abbreviated by the cutting off the city of Davenport and of the city of Bettendorf. West Buffalo is now Buffalo. Elizabeth City is now Princeton. Parkhurst, once changed to Fairfield, is now LeClaire. Bettendorf, adjacent to Davenport on the east, began as Gilbert, and then Gilbertstown; although prior to any community there, Dr. John Emerson had his claim as noted above. When the Bettendorf Co. built its plant out there the name was changed to Bettendorf; now the Emerson claim is the center of the active city of Bettendorf, with a population of 3,000, the seat of the Iowa Masonic Sanitarium, of a Carmelite Nunnery, and of the north entrance to the Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge across the Mississippi.
Blue Grass township has two small cities, Blue Grass and Walcott, both platted in 1853. The latter place was established as a railroad station on the new Mississippi and Missouri railroad, by Ebenezer Cook and other promoters of the railroad. Tradition says that the first passenger train run out of Davenport carried a delegation to the site of the newly platted Walcott for an auction of lots. Walcott has fame as the only place of its population (about four hundred) in the United States which has never had a church organization or building.
LeClaire township was settled first in 1834 by Eleazer Parkhurst, who settled just north of the LeClaire Reserve. A little settlement grew up around- the Parkhurst home which took his name. Another early settler was Laurel Summers who came in 1837. The Summers family lived in a nearby settlement called LeClaire. The two were merged into the present city of LeClaire in 1855.
Princeton township was first settled by G. M. and H. H. Pinneo who came in 1835. Thomas Hubbard was next in 1836. The town of Princeton was platted in 1853.
Sheridan township was settled by a Mr. Soper in 1840. The township was established in 1866. Eldridge is located it, this township. It was platted as a railroad junction site and named for J. M. Eldridge of Davenport, one of the promoters of Davenport and St. Paul railroad, now a part of the Milwaukee system. Winfield township was settled by four brothers named Quinn in 1836. Long Grove, a community in this township, dates from 1870.
Allen's Grove in the northern part of the county, takes its name from an original settler who came in 1836 and after the pioneer fashion sought out a grove of trees as the place for his cabin. The village of Donohue began with the building of the Davenport and St. Paul railroad, and took its name from Michael Donohue of Davenport, one of the promoters. The village of Dixon is located partly in Allen's Grove and partly in Liberty township to the west. Butler township was established in 1866 and first named "Ben Butler", which name was not honored in New Orleans. The " Ben" was afterwards dropped. The first entry within the boundaries of this township was made in 1836 by Henry H. Pease; Alphonso Warren built his cabin in 1836. The settlement of McCausland, in the northeastern part of the county, was the result of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids, and Northern railroad, later a part of the Rock Island system. Other townships in the county are Cleona, Davenport, Hickory Grove, Liberty, and Lincoln.
The history of Scott County cannot be written or understood without the story of the German settlers who have made it a county peculiar in its spirit and in its life.
The first German settlers in the county were Carl Jacob Freitag and his wife and three sons who come from Wurtemberg, in May, 1836, and settled on a claim in Rockingham township. A daughter, Caroline, was born three days after they got into their new cabin home. The farm is still owned by descendants, who are known by the name of Friday. Next came -Friedrich Ernest Bamberg from Saxony in 1837. Mr. Bamberg died shortly after they had settled near Buffalo, and Mrs. Bamberg and the seven children moved to Davenport where she kept her family together. Others came in 1837, and in later years until in 1846, there were some sixty German families in the county.
Then Europe, and particularly the German states, were alive with a rise of political leaven stirred into revolt against the arbitrary rulers of those states and of Denmark, Austria, and others. Rebellion had sprung up in several of the German states, only to be defeated. In Schlesing Holstein war with Denmark had resulted in defeat. Thousands of the German democrats left the totalitarian homelands for the promised land across the Atlantic; and Davenport and Scott County became the home of many hundreds of them. They have left the story of a great influence in the saga of Scott County. Such names as Claussen, Ficke, Lischer, Hanssen, Mueller, Schlegel, are written big in that saga. The first industrial interests of Scott County were necessarily agricultural; and as necessarily farming has continued the primary occupation of the county. The growing of grain demanded mills; we have already seen something of those early grist mills. J. M. D. Burrows, who came to Davenport from Cincinnati in 1837, started out in a small way to handle farm produce in 1840; that business, eventually under the firm name of Burrows and Prettyman, became an extensive concern by 1850, with its flouring mill and pork packing establishment. A. C. Fulton had become an active competitor, and his Aetna Mills gave Burrow's Albion Mills a hard race. The financial storm of the late fifties destroyed Burrows and Prettyman. In those first twenty years many small industries sprang up, including brushes, brooms, cigars, etc.
Then with the new advantage of railroads, industry took on a larger aspect. Wholesalers multiplied. Woolen mills were lumber, flouring mill products, furniture, agricultural implements, men's clothing, carriages and wagons, printing and publishing, brewing, tobacco and cigars, and barrels and tubs. The lumber industry grew rapidly as log s came down the river by the thousands. Pork packing developed. Food products plants appeared. Machine shops were put into operation. Davenport became a pioneer town in the making of washing machines. Tailoring became a larger industry.
In the ups and downs of business, there has been great change in all of this, as in every city. Still Davenport continues to be a manufacturing city. Scott County ranks second in Iowa, on the basis of the number of establishments and workers employed. The value of the manufactured products amounts to over $50,000,000. The U. S. Arsenal on Rock Island, and the several great agricultural implement plants in Rock Island and Moline, also employ many hundreds of Davenport residents.
The first bank organized in Davenport was that of Cook and Sargent in 1847, with later branches in Iowa City, Dubuque, and Des Moines, through which they circulated their currency issued through their bank in Florence, Nebraska. (Constitutionally there could be no banks of issue in Iowa.) The second banking institution was that of Macklot and Corbin, who opened in 1852. There were five banks in 1855, and nine in 1858, besides one in LeClaire. The panic of the late fifties had the usual effect when it reached Davenport in 1858, and the most of the banks liquidated. Macklot and Corbin (later Corbin and Dow) survived. In 1863, they applied for a charter under the new Act of Congress establishing national banks. Their charter was number fifteen, but they were the first of the new national banks actually to open and to do business as such. Austin Corbin served as president of the First National until 1865, when he went to New York and became a famous figure in the financial world. Numerous banks, bath in Davenport and in the smaller towns, appeared after that, some to merge later with their neighbors, some to fold their tents like the Arabs and disappear. The present Davenport Bank and Trust Ca. has the second largest volume of deposits in Iowa. Andrew Logan and his "Iowa Sun" appeared in 1838. The "Sun" went down in 1842. The Davenport Gazette had got going in 1841; it grew in circulation and in support until in 1854 it began a daily edition. In 1848 The Democratic Banner was flung to the breeze; it fluttered badly until 1858, when it was purchased by Richardson and West, and the name of Richardson became one of the big names in Iowa journalism. The paper became The Davenport Democrat. It gradually absorbed several competitors, including The Gazette in 1887. Several German papers were established, principally Der Demokrat in 1851. It became a daily in 1856. It was discontinued after a highly honorable career, in September, 1918.
The Times was founded in 1886, and it and The Democrat continue, both evening papers. The Bettendorf News, The Scott County Tribune (Walcott), and the Catholic Messenger complete the list of present publications in the county. The first sermon in Scott County was preached by Rev. Elnathan Gavitt, a Methodist frontier missionary, who tramped over the country from Missouri to the falls of St. Anthony, before there was any Davenport, preaching to the red men. He held the first religious meeting in Davenport in D. C. Eldridge's home; Mr. and Mrs. Eldridge were hospitable to all later intinerant preachers, several of the first denominational meetings being held in their home. Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, the Roman Catholic missionary in the Upper Mississippi Valley, came to Davenport in 1836 where he was a guest of Antoine LeClaire, who gave the new diocese of Dubuque a block of land for the new St. Anthony's church of which ground was broken in 1838, and which was dedicated by Bishop Loras in the spring of 1839, the first church building in Davenport. Then came the good father J. A. M .Pelamourgues, the friend of everybody, Catholic and Protestant, who stayed nearly thirty years. The present St. Anthony's was built in 1853, the old building being included in the present parochial school. The diocese of Davenport was established in 1881, and the Rev. John McMullen was made bishop. He died in 1883. His successors have been the Rev. Henry Cosgrove (1883-1906), the Rev. James Davis made condjutor in .1904 ( 1906-1926), and the present bishop, the Rev. Henry F. Rohlman, who took charge of the diocese in 1927.
The first Protestant church organization was Presbyterian, which began April 28, 1838, with ten members. Mrs. Ann Mitchell. the mother of Judge G. C. R. Mitchell, was the effective mother of the new church society, which had hard times during its early years. Hummels, the school teacher, preached for a time. The first stated minister was the Rev. Samuel Cleland, who came in 1843.
The Rev. Mr. Gavitt got a small group of Methodists together in Rockingham in 1835, with William L. Cook and his wife as leading members. In 1839 Mr. and Mrs. Cook withdrew from the Rockingham society to organize a class in Davenport, of which he remained the leader for many years. The first Methodist church building , like mast of the other Protestant churches, was built on a lot given by Antoine LeClaire, whose generosity knew no sectarian limits. The Fourteenth Street Methodist church was a later development; both that and the First church are now merged into St. Johns.
The first Episcopal service was held in 1837 by Bishop Chase of Illinois. Trinity church was organized in 1841. Davenport became the seat of the diocese of Iowa in 1854, under the direction of Bishop Jackson Kemper, missionary bishop of the northwest. The first resident bishop was the Rev. Henry W. Lee, who presided over the diocese from 1854 to 1874. Succeeding bishops have been the Rev. W. S. Perry, the Rev. Theodore Morrison, and the Rev. H. S. Longley. The Baptists organized at the home of John M. Eldridge in 1839, The Rev. Samuel Fowler was the first minister. The Christian church dates from 1839; its first meetings were held at the home of D. C. Eldridge.
Congregationalism began in May, 1839, with a Sunday School, which was the beginning of the third Congregational church in Iowa. The Rev. J. P. Stuart served as minister for six months in 1840. Then came the Rev. Oliver Emerson, one of "The Iowa Band"; he was succeeded the next year by another of " The Band", the Rev. Allen B. Hitchcock. In 1855, the Rev. G. F. Magoun became the minister. He was famous in later years as the president of Grinnell College. The Lutherans appeared as an organization in 1848. St. Paul's church began in 1878; and several others, of the United Synod and of other Synods,. now exist, seven churches in all. Several of these early churches have been celebrating their centennials in recent years. Other denominations followed in Davenport and in the smaller towns of the county. The Universalists effected an organization in the forties; but it did not last very long. The Unitarian Church of Davenport was organized in 1868, following sermons by the Rev. Robert Laird Collyer, who had formerly been a Methodist pastor in Davenport. The first settled minister was the Rev. Nathaniel Seaver, in whose pastorate the first church building was erected. The present structure was built in 1898.
The first schools were private affairs. The first venture of this sort in Scott County was in Pleasant Valley, taught by one Simon Cragin. It is difficult to determine who actually ran the first one in Davenport. Alexander McGregor's father was one of the very early teachers, possibly the first. Miss Marianna Hall had another at about the same time. The Rev. Michael Hummer had a school on Ripley, between First and Second streets, in the fall and winter of 1838-39. He later attained fame because of the bell in a church steeple in Iowa City, all of which inspired the ribald verse, "Hummer's Bell".
In June of 1839, a young man from Maine, C. C. Washburn, by name, reached Davenport and stayed awhile. He taught a school in a room on the second floor of his boarding place, on Scott street, between Second street and the river. He clerked in a store some, read law, and took part in the first geological survey begun in Iowa. In 1842 he went to Mineral Point, Wisconsin, in which state he became a member of congress and governor (1871-73). He made a fortune in lumber and in flour. He had a brother, Elihu B. Washburne., who became a resident of Galena, Illinois. He also went to congress, and finally became U. S. Minister to France, where he saw Bismarck and the Prussians come in 1870. There was another brother, Israel, who stayed in Maine, to become a member of congress and the war governor of that state. And those three brothers sat in the congress of the United States together. Then there was another one, William Drew Washburn, who was a U. S. senator from Minnesota, and who took the name of Washburn into countless homes on Washburn-Crosby flour sacks.
The first public schools came in the 1850's; and the most of the alder schools of the Davenport school system were originally independent district schools which the growing city overtook and absorbed.
The city school system originated following the appropriate legislation in 1858, with A. S. Kissel as the first superintendent; he later became state superintendent, (1872-76). Other superintendents have been: Dr. C. C. Parry, W. O. Hiskey, W. A. Bemis, W. E. Crosby, Phoebe W. Sudlow, J. B. Young, F. L. Smart, and Irvin H. Schmitt, who became superintendent in October, 1936. Harry A. Bonze is the county superintendent.
Iowa College was incorporated by the legislature in 1847, and it opened its collegiate classes in 1850. Following a dispute with the city council, which insisted on opening a street through the college property, the trustees moved the institution to Grinnell in 1857, where it merged with another established by J. B. Grinnell, now well known by his name.
St. Ambrose College was founded in 1822 by Bishop John McMullen, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport. It began its sessions in the Cathedral parish school, but in 1855 the present site was acquired, where the college has itself firmly established and has become a high endeavor in education, maintaining a leading position among the smaller colleges of Iowa.
Scott County and its capital city present many other evidences of a striking history of culture, including the Davenport Public Museum, the history of which goes back to 1867, and the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery, one of the first to be supported by public funds in the United States. Both of these institutions are indebted beyond measure to the generous interest of the late Honorable C. A. Ficke, who gave largely to the exhibits. The public library has a continuous history reaching back into the early 1850's.
Such is something of the story of Scott County, and of its hundred years and two, with its capital city at Davenport. Its acres are fertile; its products varied; its history inspiring; its people an excellent company among whom it is good to live.
NOTE: This book contains a 1940 copyright notice. However, after an extensive search it appears that the copyright was not renewed. As a result, the copyright is presumed to be expired and the book in the public domain.
Sources checked include: U of P: The Online Books Page and Cornell University: Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States