DAVENPORT PAST AND PRESENT
Temperance - Taxable Property - August Election - Election of Gen. Sargent - Inaugural Address - Improvements - Close of 1857 - History of "Past" finished - Editorial from Gazette.
A picture is included with this chapter. Please go to the Scott county main page and click on Pictures/Documents to view: OAK-WOOD VILLA, RESIDENCE OF C. AUGUSTUS HAVILAND, DAVENPORT, IOWA.
That ball set in such powerful motion by the moral arm of Neal Dow, did not stop among the rocks and pines of new England, but rolled across the continent, till it leaped even that majestic cold-water institution - the Mississippi. In April, of 1855, a vote was taken upon the passage of a Prohibitory Law. In Davenport, the result would have delighted the originator of "legal suasion." In Davenport Precinct eight hundred and seventy-seven votes were cast for and against the Law, of which five hundred and seventy-one were in favor to the Law. Enos Tichenor was elected Mayor by the dominant party. LeClaire gave a majority for the law of one hundred and sixty-one. The majority in the County in favor was six hundred and thirty. The highest number of votes cast in the county was one thousand eight hundred and seventy-seven.
The Temperance ticket in August, headed by Wm. Burris, for County Judge, was however, defeated by sixteen votes. W. L. Cook was elected Judge, and H. Leonard Sheriff. James McCosh was elected as Recorder on the Temperance ticket by a majority of thirty-three. The whole number of votes cast in the County was one thousand nine hundred and fifty-one - in the township one thousand and fifteen.
The value of taxable property in Davenport township for 1855 was -
This, with other property, amounted to a sum total of four million four hundred and eight thousand four hundred and thirty-three dollars.
The following statement will show the manufacturing interests of Davenport, May 1856, as compiled by a writer for the Chicago Press:
Hands employed five hundred and twenty-six, capital five hundred and eighty-six thousand, value of manufactures for the year past one million five hundred and twenty-two thousand five hundred and sixteen dollars. The sales of lumber amounted to seventeen million four hundred and twenty thousand one hundred and eighty-seven feet, six million four hundred and ninety-six thousand shingles, and eight million lath. Of this amount, ten million feet was manufactured here, three million five hundred thousand from Chicago, and balance rafted down the river. These statements do not include the manufactories of East Davenport - that place not being in the corporate limits of the city. Twenty thousand eight hundred hogs were packed, and four hundred and fifty-four thousand bushels of wheat bought in.
April 21st, the locomotive "Des Moines" crossed the Mississippi Bridge, being the first thing of the kind. Attempts were made to celebrate the event, but failed. However, the era will not be forgotten, although unrecognized by the salvo of artillery, or the plaudits of enthusiasm.
May 6th, 1856, the steamboat Effie Afton, while endeavoring to pass through the draw, was struck by a wind, and driven against a pier. She took fire, and communicated to the Bridge the destructive element. A portion was burned, and the steamer was a total wreck. Allusion is made to this, because a suit was soon after commenced against the Bridge Company by the owners of the boat, in which some highly important principles were evolved. They will be spoken of in their place.
In August, 1856, the strong feeling, originating under the Kansas-Nebraska Act, materially changed the political character of the hitherto Democratic County. Timothy Davis, Republican Congressional Candiate, received one thousand four hundred and seventy-two votes in the County, and his opponent, Shepherd Leffler, ten hundred and thirty-six. W. J. Rusch was elected over G. C. S. Dow, for State Senator, by about the same majority. Rogers, Wing, and Barner, were elected Representatives over Dodge, Parkhurst, and Smallfield. J. W. Stewart was elected Prosecuting Attorney over John Johns, Jr., and J. D. Patton, County Clerk. For a convention to form a new State Constitution there was one thusand seven hundred and four votes; against eighty-nine.
In March 1857, Gen. B. Sargent was nominated as an independent candidate for the Mayoralty. B. B. Woodward was nominated to the same office by the Republicans. Gen. Sargent was elected by seventy-eight majority, together with the principal nominees of the Democratic ticket. John Johns was elected Police Magistrate by fifty-two majority. H. W. Mitchel, Marshal, E. Peck, Clerk, S. Sylvester, Treasurer.
At the same election there were in the County forty-one majority for Mills, Republican candidate for District Judge - three hundred and ninety-eight majority against licensing the sale of spiritous liquors. The Judicial District had, a short time previous, been reorganized, owing to the fact that its immense extent precluded the possibility or the Court doing one-half of the business which it engendered. The new District included Scott, Clinton, and Jackson counties. G. C. R. Mitchell, independent candidate, was elected.
The improvements projected under the new municipal regime, headed by Gen. Sargent, were extremely liberal. Extracts from the Mayor's Inaugural will at once express the condition of the city, and the improvements recomended:
The Treasurer's*report of 31st ult., exhibits very clearly the financial state of the City. It shows that the Finances are in an excellent condition.
It is a source of just pride that, thus far, in our Municipal history, we have always been able to meet our obligations promptly and fully, in consequence of which no city in the West deservedly enjoys a better reputation or credit than our own.
The Treasurer, in his report, does not include among the liabilities of the City the indebtedness to the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad, consisting of Bonds due May 2st, 1863, for fifty thousand dollars, and Bonds to Mississippi and Missouri Railraod, due August 1st, 1865, for seventy-five thousand dollars; nor among the assets of the City, five hundred shares in Chicago and Rock Island Railroad, fifty thousand dollars, and seven hundred and fifty shares, seventy-five thousand dollars, in the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad, for which the Bonds above alluded to were issued.
It is a source of gratification that the issuing of Bond to these Railroad Companies has been of such vital importance to the advancement of our City, securing, as it did, the building of these roads, and thus bringing large accessions to our Municipal population, wealth and resources. During the past year, the dividends on the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad brought into the Treasury some six thousand dollars, more than enough to pay the interest on the Bonds. The liberal policy pursued towards these Railroads should be extended to other public improvements of equally essential importance to our City, and full as certain to add largely to our prosperity.
LOAN OF FIFTY-NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS.
Of the fifty-nine thousand dollars loan, voted last year, Bonds to the amount of nine thousand dollars only have been issued. The loan was divided as follows: Twenty-five thousand dollars for filling out and grading steam Boat Landing; less than three thousand dollars of which sum has been, as yet, expended. Mr. McCammon has a contract for grading Brady and Seventh streets, and filling up the Levee. According to the recent estimate of the City Engineer, it will not cost over twelve thousand dollars to fill between Harrison and Brady streets. The balance of the money will be subject to the order of the Council. I would urge that the Levee be Macadamized as soon as practicable, after the filling in is completed, in order to prevent damage by the action of the river current.
Ten thousand dollars were appropriated for Water works. A Committee have been making examinations for suitable grounds, who have, from time to time, reported. Although the order for this loan was made early last summer, no ground has been decided upon. It is highly important that measure should be taken immediately to secure a propersite for Water Wroks, and the necessary surveying and engineering done to furnish an estimate of the cost of procuring for the City a constant supply of pure water. As soon as such estimates are completed and approved by the Council, I would urge the issuing of Bonds for the amoung required, and the building of said Water Works at once.
Ten thousand dollars for Fire Engines and apparatus. Of this amount five thousand fine hundred dollars will have been expended (when the fire Engines arrive here, being now on the way, via. New Orleans,) in the purchase of two Fire Engines, and necessary hose and appendages The balance can be expended for a lot and Engine House, or towards the building of Cisterus. Either will come within the purview of the loan.
In this connection, I would urge a liberal appropriation to the Fire Department for outfit, &c., and that a lot be purchased, and an Engine House erected, as soon as practicable.
Four thousand dollars for taking stock in the "Davenport Gas Light and Coke Company." This was taken with an understanding that seventy-five street lamps were to be immediately erected. One semi-annual payment of interest has already been made, and no signs of street lamps yet appear. The Gas Company should be required, at once, to fulfil their part of this agreement. The delay that has already occurred is unjustifiable.
Among the many important matters demanding early attention, are the securing of a suitable lot for, and building thereon, a Hospital, at a cost of, at least, fifteen thousand dollars. The securing of a lot for, and building a City Prison, at a cost of about the same amount. A City Hall, with offices for all the city officers, and a court room for the Police Magistrate, and such other judicial officers as may, from time to time, be added to the city Judiciary, with a fire proof vault or safe, for the keeping of valuable city papers, should be constructed at a cost of not less than twenty thousand dollars. In the upper story of this building could be built a large Hall, which would, if properly managed, pay at least ten per cent. on the entire cost.
I would suggest the propriety of borrowing fifty thousand dollars, on Bonds of the city, principal payable in twenty years, for this purpose.
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There has been an urgent necessity for the improvement of the streets, &c., in almost every part of the city. I would urge prompt action on these matters now, even if the necessary funds have to be borrowed on the bonds of the city, as the best economy and policy. Good and substantial crossings should be made in every part of the city where citizens have been taxed for sidewalks; and a contract should be made with some responsible party to keep such crossings in good passable condition during the entire season.
The principal streets in the city should be graded without delay, particularly as a large amount of Macadamizing will probably be done this season, and the road fund will be entirely inadequate. This Fund is not sufficient to make the ordinary street repairs. Other permanent improvements must be provided for by making a loan. A loan of one hundred thousand dollars for this purpose would be desirable.
Past experience has shown that the Council should never permit a single yard of dirt to be hauled upon the streets, but where they are in bad condition, they should be improved by ploughing in the gutters, and rounding up, as in almost every instance the dirt must be removed below the surface grade for permanent improvements, like that of Macadamizing. There is one idea in connection with grading of streets, to which I would call your particular attention. It is easily seen how large a quantity of land can be made by an expenditure of twelve thousand dollars on the Levee. An expenditure of fifty thousand dollars more would make enough land to pay the entire cost of making. The River is shallow in front of the city; and by entending the Levee, a better landing can be had than now; and the old landing could be cut up into lots, and sold for building purposes.
A general system of sewerage should be at once adopted. There is no city in the world where nature has done more towards a natural drainage than in our own; yet a judicious system of sewerage commenced now, and carried out, will add immensely to the health of the city, and save, in after years, thousands of dollars, and hundreds of lives.
Its situation, at the intersection of the two great arterial trade currents of the country, would alone give it consideration and imprtance; yet, with rivals above and below, generally competing with us for pre-eminence, we much not stay our own efforts. Although much has been done, more remains to be done. It will not do for us to rest content with the success of past exertions, nor trust our future to the natural course of events, but with combined and well directed efforts on our part, the continued success and growth of our city are beyond doubt.
Situated on the most magnificent natural highway upon the North American continent, and on what must eventually be the main line of interoceanic communication, being the only point at which the Mississippi has been bridge, and in all probability destined for many years to be the only such point in a State that has untold wealth in its fertile soil, and commanding all its central position, there surely can be no uncertainty as to its future importance. Its past History, too gives large promise. It has reached its present development with a rapidity unknown, except in Western experience. Its founders, and its first citizens, are yet active in our midst, and to these, whose experience has been its experience, as they look back upon its insignificant beginnings, its early struggles, its times of doubt, and remember the few short years that have sufficed for the growth and prosperity of to-day, no speculation, as to its future importance, can seem unreasonable or extravagant.
The recomendations of Mayor Sargent were not unheeded. Appropriations, for the various purposes specified, were made, and the improvement during the year was rapid beyond precedent. Over thirteen hundred Houses were erected, dating from August 1st, 1856, to the close of the year 1857, two miles of street Macadamized, four and a half miles of gas pipe laid, over two hundred and fifty street lamps erected, and thirteen miles of sidewalk laid.
This sidewalk estimate includes none above the Railroad Bridge, none in East Davenport, and none in North Davenport, except Brady street, though they are all within the city limits; these would certainly eke out the measures to twenty miles of sidewalk in the city of Davenport.
The assessed property of the city increased from one hundred thousand dollars, in 1851, to one million five hundred thousand dollars in 1854, to three million dollars in 1855, to three million five hundred and fifty thousand dollars in 1856, and for the present year amounts to five million two hundred and twenty-five thousand ninety-one dollars and ninety-one cents.
A magnificent Engine House was built at an expense of five thousand dollars, and engines, with hose carts, &c., purchased. The "Independent Fire Engine and Hose Company" had organized some time previously under a Charter from the Legislature, and to them was committed the care of the Engine House, and fixtures.
The number of houses erected in Davenport during the year ending with 1857:
At the August election, Col. Chas. Weston, Democrat, was elected County Judge, James McCosh, Republican, Recorder, and H. Leonard, Democrat, Sheriff. The vote for the new Constitution received a majority in its favor, and in all other respects, save the two above-mentioned officers, the Republican measures were victorious.
The year 1857 closed, after having, to the full, equalled its predecessors in the progress and benefits which it carried to our city. The population increased to eighteen thousand, immense improvements were projected and executed, real estate steadily rose in value, and every element of prosperity was rapid and sure in its development. The financial revulsion of the Fall, affected us somewhat, but to an extent remarkable for its meagreness. Ample facts in regard to this will be afforded hereafter.
The Winter of'57 and '8 was, up to the time of writing,* the most remarkable on record. The river was as clear of ice as it was under the sweltering influences of a July sun, while the weather was like the balmyness of Spring.
*February 5th, 1858.
The prominent occurrence, of the early part of '58, was a difficulty between the municipal authorities and the Firemen. The former framed an Ordinance, creating certain new offices in the Fire Department, which were to be filled independently of the Firemen. The latter rebelled - refused to attend fires, and held meetings denunciatory of the action of the authorities. The Council was firm in resistance, and matters seemed likely to assume a most unpleasant aspect. Mayor Sargent, however, happened to attend a fire, when he was nearly mobbed by some Germans, indignant at some real or fancied wrong in relation to one of their Aldermanic representatives. The Firemen rallied round the Mayor, affording him a guard of honor and protection. The result was that they received their Engines again, and a satisfactory compromise effected in regard to the Fire Ordinances.
Business druing the Winter was, as in all other places, dull, owing to the derangement of financial affairs, but owing to the soundness of business, there were less than half a dozen failures - a fact that challenges equality in any other place, East or West. Of these failures there were but two of consequence.
The "PAST" is finished-but a review of the field will not be attempted till the "PRESENT" has benn minutely scanned. Then reflections, which our progress hitherto affords, will be indulged in.
As an appropriate finish, the following article, from the pen of an editorial cofrere, is appended. It was written May, 1857:
"Five years ago Davenport was only distinguished as the most beautiful village on the Mississippi river. Resting upon the western bank of this great river, and nestling in the bosom of a grand amphitheatre, formed by a crescent of bluffs circling around the plain, a half mile back from the river in front-the cliffs of Rock Island parting the crytal waves, and old Fort Armstrong resting upon these walls of stone-the village of Rock Island opposite, and the river coiling off in the distance, glittering like a silver thread for miles-certainly no lovelier spot ever gladdened the eyes of man, than Davenport as a village. It then had only about seventeen hundred, or two thousand inhabitants. Now, we have a population of from fourteen to fifteen thousand people, all actively engaged in business, all intent upon developing to the utmost the great advantages of the place, all striving to continue the growth so remarkabley commenced, and with every incentive to energetic action. Within five years, Davenport has changed from the village to the first city in Iowa, and she is now as remarkable for her commerce, trade and manufactures, for all the attributes of a flourishing city, as five years ago she was for her loveliness as a village. Last fall, we published a full list of the manufactures of Davenport. Our own citizens were astonished at the extent and variety of manufactures in the city, and the aggregate annual amount of manufactured articles. Since then, the list has been largely increased, and this season will mark an augmentation as remarkable as any year's increase since our village history. Upon no surer foundation for prosperity can a young city rest, than upon her manufactures-but when with these are linked so great a river and railroad, or commercial advantages, as Davenport enjoys, who can tell when or where the prosperity and progress marking our city, at this time, may cease? The people of Davenport feel justly proud of the manufactures of their city. While rival cities are depending almost entirely upon their commercial advantages, and resting their whole future upon this or that railroad enterprise, we, enjoying, probaby, all their advantages of this nature, place a strong reliance upon the influence of various and extended and rapidly increasing manufactures, to carry forward that prosperity so happily begun, and so wonderfully marking our present history. We consider this no weak reliance, when we reflect upon the amount of capital invested in manufactures at this point, the number of persons engaged, and the numbers flocking here for employment, in response to the demand, the independence given us of distant communities in so many particulars, and the standard men of means who are continually coming into our midst to open new branches of mechanics. We anticipate that our list of next fall will show an increase in capital, amount of manufactures, number of hands employed, &c., of fully one-third over our last year's statistics.
Commercially, we are situated far enough on the river above St. Louis to be entirely independent of the influences of that city, and near enough to avail ourselves of its advantages as a market of demand and supply. We are at the foot of the upper Rapids, and the center of one of the richest and most thickly settled regions of country in the great Mississippi Valley. We have direct connection with Chicago by railroad, a distance of eight or nine hours travel, and through its railroad with the East, &c. With the interior we are connected by the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad, some time since finished to Iowa City, the capitol of the State, and doing an excellent business, and now fast being built to connect us with the Missouri river. This road is already a great artery of trade and travel, and every month is increasing its business, and its value to this city. Of other roads in contemplation, we have not now space to speak. At this point, the great bridge crosses the Mississippi, the only bridge spanning this vast body of water in its whole length, from St. Anthony to the Gulf. It is evident that other roads must be drawn to this point to obtain a bridge crossing. Indirectly, we consider the bridge of immense importance to our city. In itself, it is a magnificent structure, and one in which we feel a pardonable pride. We claim commercial advantages for Davenport second to those of no other point above St. Louis.
The very fact of the country, back of Davenport, being so thickly settled, farm after farm stretching out in every direction, like a vast garden, and villages dotting the prairie at every stream and grove, with the continued influx of immigrants, of the best stamina, is, in itself, perhaps, sufficient to demonstrate that the wonderful growth of our city is but the natural result of plain causes, and must continue so long as the causes exist. We have the back country, and the people in the back country, to sustain a far larger city than Davenport now is.
The population of Davenport is principally composed of the most substantial classes of eastern people. New England is largely represented in our midst, with enough of Western leaven to add go-ahead energy to backbone! The clime is nearly assimilated to that of New England-cold dry winters, and delightful summers. At this time, there is a great deal of cash capital coming from the east to this place seeking investment. Consequent upon this, in part, there is an immense amount of property changing hands, and we have heard of no sale this season, nor do we expect to hear of one made under ordinary circumstances, in which the seller receives not a full remunerative price. Property in the city, and about the city, is steadily increasing in value, with no prospect of cessation, much less of revulsion. It is not above what it should be, even if our city had no prospect of future swift growth-but on the contrary, it must continue improving with the progress of the city. Property in several other upper Mississippi cities, not really so large as Davenprot, is almost or quite double what it is here, and rents proportionately higher. In those places a revulsion should be expected. Perhaps it were better for their real prosperity that it should speedily take place, as the present condition of things is driving to other points the very men calculated most to build up a city. A portion of our daily increase of population is made up of mechanics, and others, who cannot go to other places if they so desire.
Thus much we have hastily sketched of our own city as it is. We have not the space to give many interesting facts connected with our city, or to more than barely touch upon those things in which the stranger is most interested. Davenport is healthy and prosperous. The man of capital, or the man depending upon his skill, or strong arm alone, for success, and seeking a new home, should trun his eyes to this place. Let him come and examine for himself. He will find at this point, on both sides of the river, nearly thirty thousand people, with capital and labor unitedly exerting their wonderful influence, and more capital and labor in demand. He will see evidences of prosperity and progress for which he may vainly seek among the younger or smaller cities of the East or South. Let him become one of us, and uniting his energies and industry to ours, grow and prosper with us."