Scott Co, Iowa USGenWeb Project
Richter, August Paul.
Geschlichte der Stadt (English Translation)
Davenport und der County Scott. Davenport, Iowa: 1917
Several Outlying Davenport Communities
East Davenport, Blackhawk, Northwest Davenport-Characteristic Features.- Good cohesian with the whole.
A characteristic of
the American, at least in former times, was his great distaste for restriction
of any kind. The frequent neighborhood entertainments of pioneer days and the
use of any opportunity for light or serious discussion show that he did indeed
like some social contact, but for the rest, in his home, he preferred as much
free space as possible. "Expansion" is an individual and national
American characteristic. The desire for it was probably the reason for the
origin of outlying communities near Davenport when there was still much room in
the city. There was also the intention of landowners to increase the value of
their farmland by division into building sites. The constantly rising number of
immigrants promoted this. In the first half of the eighteen fifties there arose
several settlements very near Davenport toward the east, west, and northwest. In
the course of time they were incorporated into the older city.
In the east of A. LeClaire's reserve, given to him at the close of the Indian treaty of 1832, Wm. H. Hildreth and Dr. G.W. Witherwax laid out a "city" in the fall of 1851. They gave it the name of Upper Davenport; later it became East Davenport. This city was small; on the plat there were only ten city blocks between Eastern and Summit Avenues, Christie and Eddy Streets. It could expand in all directions, however, with the exception of the Mississippi side. The location was good on the broad bulge of the river called "Stubb's Eddy" after Lieutenant Stubbs, who for many years had lived there in a cave like an isolated hermit. It was a promising place for a harbor. Besides several residences two grist mills were built, one by Hildreth and Dallan and other other belonging to a certain Stephens. The first of these was later turned into a brewery. As an independent community East Davenport never succeeded, and in 1856 it had itself annexed to Davenport which was expanding. Hildreth we have mentioned had bought a female slave in his southern home in 1843. When he later moved to Iowa he brought her along; she continued to serve the family as a domestic servant. The black woman did not know her rights; she actually remained a slave, bound to the house and receiving no wages for her work. This continued until 1865, when the woman had become old and feeble. In the "good old times" of slavery in the south, "Old Aunty" would have received sufficient food, but she lived here in the free north. When she became unfit for duty she became a burden to her master. One day, after she had perhaps broken a plate, she was ordered by him "to leave the house immediately and never to appear in the kitchen again with her accursed black face." The exile was now free and could have died in her freedom if compassionate people had not supported her. She had become too old to earn her living. The affair reached the ears of attorney Alfred Sully, and he took up her cause. He charged her former owner in her name for payment of wages for her last years of service. Hildreth had to agree; the black woman also received a little old house to live in from Hildreth and with the help of some others she was kept from starving to await her death in peace.
East Davenport has long since become a flourishing part of Davenport. Besides stores many small and several large businesses were built up, among them machine and wagon works, sawmills, and a brewery. In the process East Davenport always retained a certain distinction. Long after comfortable exchange had been achieved by a good street-car line there remained a kind of neutral ground and an imaginary line of division between it and the old town. A number of social foci formed in the east, especially for the German population. Their leader was the German-Bohemian tailor Martin Haberda, considered the "mayor" of East Davenport. This honorary title justly passed to the former carpenter and later merchant, Christian Kuehl, after the death of Haberda. Kuehl represented the sixth ward for many years in the city council and remained an important figure in city government as an alderman at large elected by all the citizens of Davenport. Social life was cultivated in a number of societies and the by the churches. There were one or more associations for the support a Turner society. Kuehl's Hall and Beckmann's Hall were the homes of these associations and for many of their social events. A comfortable place to talk, also for the more honorable Germans of Davenport, was a little garden near Koehler and Lange's brewery until twenty years ago, with its old shade tree and a nice view of the river.
On the other side of Davenport and somewhat west of the city limits lies Blackhawk. Without any definite line it stretches approximately from the end of Fourth Street along the beautifully wooded hillside to neighboring Rockingham township. There are countless magnificent views of the broad Mississippi valley over to the Illinois chain of hills. In early pioneer times this land had been claimed by several people under squatter's rights. Among them were the Glaspells, Dr. James Hall, Col. Thomas C. Eads, Alexander McGregor and others planning an idyllic country life here besides their other professions. They began to plough and prepare small pieces of land for agriculture and built pretty homes for themselves. They gave their places pretty names. McGregor called his "Rose Hill Farm"; the county sanitarium now stands on its heights. Farm life was probably too difficult in the woods and on the hills, and one after the other the owners of the land began to divide it into smaller pieces for sale for good prices. A number of nice residential sites with a few flat acres about them resulted. At the southern end of Blackhawk where the pioneer Schmidt family already owned a rather large land complex, other Germans built on smaller tracts and laid out vineyards. Johann Christian Friedrich Schmidt was the first viniculturist in Blackhawk. He had been a teacher in Holstein, coming to Scott county on July 13 of 1847 with the first great immigration. After he had managed a farm for a time with his oldest sons in Blue Grass township, he settled in the Blackhawk hills and turned heavily to viniculture. His five sons did the same, Wilhelm, Carl, August, Fritz, and Ludwig. Their successes and the wonderful area prompted others to plant vineyards there too. Among these were Emil Gaisler, Otto Klug, William Pape, G.P. Ankerson, William Riepe, William Glass- William Steinberg. All practiced liberal hospitality during visits from fellow songsters; many a beautiful song rang through those hills. One of Steinberg's friendly invitations went this way:
On Blackhawk's green-clad heights,
Where the breezes cooler blow,
Where Blackhawk's silver stream
Murmurs from place to place,
Where Steinberg's cottage stands,
The flag on gable waves,
There were the tired feet
Take rest with beer and wine-
Yes, in Blackhawk it is fair,
To Steinberg's let us go!
The sombre spirit of prohibition has put an end to all this splendor. It caused the total ruin of viniculture in Iowa in the middle of the eighties, also in Blackhawk with its wine of prized body and boquet. Many vines were dug out, others went wild and only a relatively small part of it is used for wine-making.
Blackhawk has not yet become a real residential part of the city. Its time will come as certainly as it has for the wooded hills of erstwhile Camp McClellan and the heights of the upper stream east of Davenport. It will be nice to live in Blackhawk, one of the most charming of the many beautiful spots in this area.
A "little Germany" in the American west could and still can be seen in Northwest Davenport by taking a walk to this singular part of Davenport. It was much more German than the city of which it is now suburb to the northwest and from which it was completely separated for many years by large stretches of fields and brickyards. It formed a quiet, comfortable community in itself. In the course of the last fifteen or twenty years this has changed dramatically, but the former character of Northwest Davenport has remained essentially the same. It makes a free, and hospitable impression on every visitor.
The founding of this part of the city, which has now been a part of the old town, with the intervening spaces filled with stately homes, falls in that time when the Schleswig-Holstein immigration markedly increased. Holsteiners or their descendants still almost exclusively constitute its population. For that reason it was named "Hamburg" after the port of embarkation, and name which is still of this area, laid claim to large tracts of government land shortly after his arrival in 1835. Several years later he bought them for the cheap price of $1.25 per acre. A quarter-section, 160 acres, of this land was divided into building sites in 1853. They found willing buyers, because they were much cheaper and more healthy than those which were to be had at the time in lower and west Davenport. Hamburg was originally bounded by Leonard, Border (Division), Locust and Marquette Streets. In later years it was enlarged by properties of Harvey Sturdevant, a brother-in-law of Mitchell. The names of its streets had a good sound, among them Marquette, Washington, Franklin, Liberty, and Union, as well as streets named after worthy pioneers Leonard, Mitchell, and Sturdevant. The Mitchell home, surrounded by a large garden, is still standing in its former old-fashioned splendor. It is the property of John Lueschen, a successful businessman in Northwest Davenport and an important landowner.
The social life of German associations and other types is still flourishing to the extent allowed by repressive state laws. There has been a Northwest Davenport Turner's Society since 1871 which cultivates physical and mental exercise, German song and dramatic art. It owns a beautiful, spacious hall which was built shortly after the first hall burned on July 4, 1882. Next to it is a pretty garden belonging to the society, in which pleasant folk festivals are held. In former years there were several other favorite amusement places. On the southeast corner of old Hamburg there was Washington garden and catercorner on the northwest corner of the settlement was Peter Jacobsen's tavern with a small park. Each of these places had a popular stage on which German comedies and popular plays were performed by talented amateurs. Among the other societies the Glee Club deserves special mention.
Besides the name of Hamburg Northwest Davenport was also popularly called "Chawtown." This comes from the time before the Civil War. A wheelwright by the name of Klindt lived there who attracted the attention of outsiders mainly by the fact that he chewed a lot of tobacco. He had a big chaw in his mouth all day; his cheek was stretched out and the front of his shirt [showed traces of the juice]. The man was called Chaw Klindt...
An interesting institution of old Hamburg which lasted far into the eighteen seventies was cow-herding. After the free rambling and grazing of domestic animals on the roads and paths of Davenport itself had been forbidden, the law was also extended to Northwest Davenport. Almost every family there had at least one cow. In February of 1872 the Northwest Davenport Cow Pasturing Society was organized for a cow herd to collect the cows in the morning and to drive them to fallow land or rented meadows and to bring them back in the evening. According to the by-laws every member pledged himself to permit the sale of his best cow if he did not pay his dues on time. No one could leave the society before the end of the year without presenting a successor. If a cow was found to have an infectious disease, the owner had to keep her in, but he had to pay his dues until the end of the year. He could replace her with another cow, his own or one of his neighbor's. The society had more than forty members; their regular meetings were held on the last Sunday of February, June, and October.
Each community needs leaders; the republic of Hamburg also had its own. They were not official; there was no formal election, but the authority was in general quite normative. Members of the managing council were Peter N. Jacobsen, Dr. F.F. Raabe, Henry J. Meyer, Gustav Boeckelmann, Henry and John H Jebens, John Lueschen, Nik. Albrecht, and others. Jacobsen was considered top man. He was the "mayor of Hamburg" or "Chawtown".
Peter Nikolai Jacobsen was born on March 24, 1833, in Eckernfoerde. The Schleswig-Holstein uprising against Denmark began on his fifteenth birthday. Because he was too young for the people's army he served as coachman during the war. Later he took up the miller's trade and made extensive journeys through Germany. In the summer of 1857 he came to Davenport. He spent the first years on a rented farm and then on his own in Princeton township. When J.N. Rusch had built the windmill about five miles from Davenport on Dubuque Road, he took over its management. The mill burned down in 1863 and Jacobsen opened a business on the crossing of Locust and Border...[lines missing]... The Turner Society had its first home here and other associations had their quarters. Jacobsen set up a German stage for which he gathered and managed the personnel, like the man of good education and organizational talent that he was. In 1886 he retired from business, but till his death on July 25, 1913, he took a very active part in public affairs, and especially those of the German community. In all the associations of Northwest Davenport and several in Davenport, in the old fire brigade and industrial complexes he held positions of responsibility for many years. He was a member of the citizens' committee for managing school elections independent of political parties for more than forty years and for many years its chairman. He was a delegate of the German-American Central Association, founder and president of the German Theater Society and the German Pioneer Association of Scott County. He never ran for a paying position.
Northwest Davenport has retained its attractiveness to the present day. In a lecture given several years ago about city beautification E.K. Putnam called it a model, idyllic place, which "brings joy to the visitor with its neat houses, lawns and flowerbeds in the gardens in front, the flowers in the windows where even hoarfrost makes one feel cozy in winter." It is, however, no rural, sleepy idyll that makes one drowsy. It has a good number of lively business establishments and stores, and a bank, and above all a very animated, joyous populace.