Friday, June 19, 2020

(from the Davenport Democrat and Leader. May 21, 1911)

Interesting advertisement for the Thomas Flyer, sold by Thomas Auto Co. at 408 State Street in Davenport, Iowa.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Clown Cigarette Advertisement from 1922

(from the Decatur Herald and Review. March 1, 1922)

I've seen a lot of strange tobacco ads over the years, but this one for Clown Cigarettes makes it appear like they deliberately targeted children. What are your thoughts?

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Quad City Women Golfers Mrs. Edward C. Roberts & Mrs. Frank W. Bahnsen

 Mrs. Frank W. Bahnsen (left) and Mrs. Edward C.
Roberts competed in the Western Golf Association
tournament at the Rock Island Arsenal Golf Club.
(The Davenport Democrat and Leader. September 
20, 1916)
Quad City women golfers competed all summer for the Gold Friendship Circle Pin presented by the Western Golf Association. The tournament was held at the Rock Island Arsenal Golf Club.

When it was over, Mrs. Edward C. Putnam won the coveted pin. She made the lowest net average with a score of 87 1/4. Miss Elizabeth Putnam came in second with a score of 87 1/2. Mrs. Edward C. Roberts turned in a score of 89 1/4 to tie Mrs. Frank Mixter for third place, and Mrs. Frank W. Bahnsen came in fourth with a score of 90 1/4.

The previous year's champion,  Miss Elizabeth Allen could not compete due to an injury. She took charge of the tournament matches, instead.

The pin was presented at a tea party held at the Rock Island Arsenal Club House.

Des Moines Boosters Club - Button Day 1907

(from The Des Moines Register. January 19, 1907)
Here's an idea we could use today.

Back around the turn of the century, cities big and small had booster clubs, the purpose of which was to arouse people's interest in the town.

Des Moines sold shiny blue buttons its citizens were expected to wear to show their enthusiasm. A normal button cost 50 cents, and a plated one, $1.00. The button had an ear of corn emblazoned on it along with the words, "Des Moines Does Things."

At 11:00 a.m. on Button Day, everything came to a stop for ten minutes so that everyone could "concentrate his deepest thoughts on how to make it bigger and better," explained the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

"It was assumed that everybody who wore a button would feel in a way committed to the cause," reported The Des Moines Register. "The vital factor in the campaign is loyalty to Des Moines. The loyal booster is expected to quit knocking the town. He is required to believe that it is the best town of its size on earth, and is going to be better. He is expected to place the interests of the community above selfish individual considerations. He is expected to patronize home industries, spending his money in such a way that it will remain in circulation in Des Moines."

Friday, May 29, 2020

Clinton, Iowa Born Actress Lillian Russell

Fay Templeton, Joe Weber, Lew Fields, and Lillian Russell.
(Davenport Democrat and Leader. June 2, 1912)
Helen Louise Leonard--Nellie to her friends--Lillian Russell to her fans, was born in Clinton, Iowa in 1861. Her father, Charles Leonard, owned and operated the Clinton Herald before moving his family to Chicago when Helen was just a young girl.

Her first appearance on stage was uneventful. She played the part of a kidnapped child in a performance of The Gypsy, given by the sisters of the Sacred Heart Convent. She sang in the choir at St. John's Episcopal Church - once. She was asked not to return after cracking peanuts during a solo performance by the tenor.

After graduating from Mrs. Bates' school at age 16, Helen moved to New York with her mother and two sisters so she could study under Dr. Leopold Damrosch.

Not long after that, Tony Pastor arranged for her to sing at a nearby theater as Lillian Russell. She was an immediate success and her salary quickly jumped from $50 to $150 per week.

1907 University of Iowa Team Photo

Top row, left to right: Barton, Poyneer, Miller, Coach Storey, Daily, and Johanssen.
Bottom Row: W. Kelley, Kirk, E. J. Kelley (Captain), Maurey Kent, and Wilson.
(from The Des Moines Register. June 9, 1907)

The University of Iowa Baseball Team won the Intercollegiate Championship in 1907. They won every one of their college league games for the season.

Early Automobile Advertisement from Scott County Mercantile Co. 1912

Couldn't resist adding one more early automobile advertisement. This one is from Scott County Mercantile Co. in Davenport, Iowa. The ad for the Maxwell Messenger shows an early grocery delivery truck from Elmer C. Zedder's grocery store. I wasn't able to verify if that was a local business. If anyone has any info, please leave a comment.

Huesing Bros. Automobile Advertisement 1912

(from The Daily Times. February 24, 1912)

Does anyone remember when A. D. Huesing sold automobiles instead of Pepsi? Soda must have proved a better seller.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Life And Death At the Rock Island Military Prison During the Civil War

Confederate prisoners working at Rock Island Military
Prison. (Public domain image sourced from 
Wikimedia Commons)
During the Civil War years, imprisonment in the Rock Island Military Prison was almost like receiving a death sentence; only the execution was more prolonged and painful. Things there were so bad, people began to call Rock Island the “Andersonville of the North.”

Getting to the true story of life at the prison is almost impossible. Northern papers, notably The New York Herald and the Chicago Tribune, tended to write glowing articles about life at the camp as compared to the wretched treatment Northern boys received in Southern prison camps. 

What they overlooked was the death rate at Rock Island. The camp’s first year of operation was the worst. Depending on which report you rely on, nearly a thousand prisoners died during its first six months of operations, half that number from diseases such as smallpox, dysentery, and pneumonia.

In May 1864, the Muscatine Weekly Journal reported 6,586 prisoners were confined at the Rock Island prison. ”1132 have died, 668 have enlisted in the United States Naval Service, and 171 have been released by order of the President.”[i]

The Cedar Falls Gazette published a weekly tally of deaths at the camp. Forty-nine prisoners died in the first week of April 1864. “Since the 22nd of December (1863), there have been 969 deaths among the prisoners, 415 of which were from smallpox.”[ii]

The Bellevue War - An Incident of Frontier Iowa Life in 1840

Only known contemporary illustration of the Bellevue
War. (Colorized print from The Loyal West in the 
, by John W. Barber. Published in 1865)
In the late 1830’s the area surrounding Bellevue, Iowa served as a refuge for horse thieves, counterfeiters, gamblers, and robbers. The Burlington Hawkeye and Iowa Patriot blamed the rash of outlaws on the area's proximity to the Mississippi River. It drew the “very dregs of depravity into this country.” They would swoop out of their hideouts, grab their booty, then race back to the safety of William Brown’s hotel before anyone could identify them.

Brown was one of the original settlers of Bellevue. He came to the area in 1836 or 1837 and purchased the hotel. In 1838 he ran for sheriff of Jackson County and lost to William W. Warren of Dubuque. In 1840 Brown ran for a seat in the Territorial Legislature and lost to Thomas Cox. That created bad feelings because Cox had accused him of illegal dealings during the campaign.

The band committing most of the robberies around Bellevue worked out of Elk Heart, Michigan. They focused on Iowa and the Rock River Valley in Illinois, though occasionally they ventured as far as Kentucky, Missouri, and the Cherokee Nation.[1]

The way the band worked, they had spotters on location who passed on information about promising prospects. When the robbers hit, the spotters were careful to be with a neighbor who could vouch for their innocence. That way no blame could fall back on them.

Bellevue was a central point on their route.

Davenport Baseball Team of 1889

From left to right, upper row: Con Struthers, Whitaker, Routcliffe, Henry Schuhknecht. Middle row: Joe Kappel, Sammy Nichols,
 Bob Allen (captain),  Charles Gessinger, Henry Kappel. Bottom Row: Jerry Harrington, Billy Rhines, Jack Fanning, Jack Lauier.

Baseball didn't get a real start in Davenport until the 1889 season. There had been two previous attempts to bring the game to the area - in 1879, and again in 1888, but both leagues quickly fell apart.

The Interstate League reorganized in 1889 and included teams from eight area cities including: Davenport, Burlington, Peoria, Quincy, Terra Haute, Dubuque, Springfield, and Quincy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Barbershop Shootout in West Davenport

John Hassman’s barbershop at 804 West Second Street in
Davenport, Iowa. Edward Cochran fired the shots that killed
him through the wooden fence.
(The Davenport Democrat and Leader. November 30, 1911)
Edward P. Cochran stopped by John Hassman’s barbershop at 804 West Second Street to ask if he needed another barber. Hassman laughed and said he didn’t look like a barber. Cochran slapped him in the face, then walked away. Hassman picked up a rock and threw it after him.

Cochran scurried off to the Miller Hotel, where he ate breakfast. Before leaving, he stopped in his room and grabbed his gun—a Savage Automatic that held ten shells—nine in the chamber and one in the barrel.

 “When I got around to the back of Hassman’s shop, he came out and grabbed a brick and swore at me,” said Cochran. “I told him to stay where he was and not come any farther towards me with that brick, or I would shoot him.

“When he kept on coming, I pulled out my revolver and shot at him four or five times.” 

Muscatine Button Worker Strike and the Murder of Patrolman Theodore Gerischer

The Muscatine pearl button industry got its start almost by mistake in 1890. John F. Boepple, a German immigrant, cut his foot on a clam shell while swimming in the Mississippi River. Rather than cry about his bad luck, Boepple gathered a handful of shells and took them home, where he cut them into buttons. A local merchant bought them for ten cents, and a new industry got its start.

Twenty years later, Muscatine found itself home to at least forty-three pearl button factories and cutteries. By 1910, the industry dominated the local economy. Over one-half of the city’s 3,500 wage earners labored as button workers.[i] Muscatine buttons accounted for 15 percent of the nation's button supply, and salaries from the industry contributed over one and a half million dollars a year to the local economy. An expert consulted by the Des Moines Register said the average worker earned $12 per week.[ii] But unionists claimed most workers made half that amount.

Pauline Lang, a Muscatine button worker, explained to the San Francisco Labor Council, “the men were receiving but from $6 to $7 per week, many of them toiling in water to their knees. The women and children received as low as $3 a week for toiling in rooms where the dust was so thick that many of them contracted blood poison and consumption.”[iii]

It was a dangerous, dirty job, worked by men, women, and children as young as fourteen. A typical workweek could run anywhere between 54 to 72 hours. 

Murder of Herman Peetz in Rockingham, Iowa

Walter J. Hill received a 25-year sentence
for shooting and killing his one-time friend, 
Herman Peetz (pictured above) , at his
Rockingham  home.
(The Daily Times. November 25, 1918)
Walter J. Hill cursed the day he rented his house to Herman Peetz. At one time, the two men had been friends, but those days were long gone. Peetz didn’t appreciate anything Hill had done for him.

Hill rented his house to Peetz for next to nothing, and how did he repay him? With a bill for some petty work, he’d done in the back yard.


No. It wasn’t right. He would show Peetz.

Hill bought a .38 caliber revolver and 50 rounds of ammunition, then told his neighbor, H. E. Ashcraft, that he was going to "get" Peetz. 


Less than a week later, Hill shot Herman Peetz dead in his back yard at 423 Pearl Street in Rockingham (now the west end of Davenport).


In retrospect, the reasons for the shooting seemed petty or inconsequential. 


Hill leaned a ladder up against Peetz’s house and dragged a roll of tar paper up to the roof. Then he went home to get a hammer and nails. When he came back, he discovered Peetz had taken the ladder down and tossed it in the yard.

Des Moines Aviation Meet Thrills Crowds in 1911

Rene Barrier seated in John B. Moisants Number 17
Monoplane. He flew the plane during an exposition at
Des Moines Hyperion Field in 1911.
(Des Moines Register. May 28, 1911)
Des Moines experienced its first Aviation Meet during the final days of May 1911 as French Aviators Rene Simon and Rene Barrier showed off their aeroplanes in a four-day exposition at the Hyperion Field and Motor Grounds. Tickets to the event cost fifty cents.

Barrier told the Des Moines Register he "wanted his monoplane entirely overhauled before the opening of the meet. The delicate mechanism is very sensitive to long and hard flights such as the noted altitude and cross country flyer has subjected it to and it is his desire to have it in the very tiptop condition for his altitude, cross country, and speed work here."

The paper went on to say Barrier had recently installed the new Gnome motor in his plane while flying at Sioux City and that "it is working like a charm."

A. H. Quessler to Manage 1911 Keokuk Baseball Club

The Keokuk baseball club hired 28-year-old A. H. Quessler to replace Frank belt as their manager for the 1911 season. He had previously managed the Independence, Kansas Club for one season. Quessler was a catcher for Waterloo the previous season, and was well-known in the Western League where he had previously played in Denver and Wichita. 

Monday, May 25, 2020

1912 -1913 Basketball Players

Found this clipping of some players from the 1912 - 1913 Davenport High School Basketball Team. The players include: Ross Tomson, Right Guard. Robert Kauffman, Left Guard. Frank Rhodes, Captain and Right Forward. John Hanssen, Left Forward.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

John Armstrong Haunting in Carlisle Iowa

Every night at just after sunset the residents of Carlisle. Iowa grew accustomed to seeing Mr. and Mrs. John Armstrong sitting in their armchairs. The only thing that bothered people a bit was the couple had been dead for two years. 

In July 1903 their grandson, C. C. Sumter sent a man to fix up the home so he could rent it out. The man came back, wild-eyed, screaming that he’d “seen the ghosts of two old folks, as real as life.”

Sumter had his doubts and asked Mayor Atkins to investigate. 

The mayor wrote back: Decorator right. Ghosts of John Armstrong and wife seen nightly at their old home. Entire town perplexed and witnessing the spectacle.

Sumter thought they were crazy but came to see for himself.

Sure enough his grandparents materialized in their chairs at daybreak and faded out come nighttime. Just like in real life, his deaf grandmother tapped on the floor with her cane to get the old man’s attention. The couple appear to talk. Their lips move, but no sounds are heard.

Upon further investigation, it developed that ghosts only appeared on bright, sunshiny days. Apparently, John Armstrong didn’t like dark, gloomy days. He’d close the blinds and hide away in his house. 

Years later, a small boy solved the mystery. The stained glass window in the Christian Church across the street had an image of an old couple. When the sun shone it cast their reflections into the Armstrong’s living room. On dark days, there was nothing.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch. August 23, 1903.

A Haunted House on Dry Creek in Fort Madison

There’s a haunted house in the west end of Fort Madison that sits on the bank of a ravine called Dry Creek. 

James Dixon, a section hand on the Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad lived there with his family for a few weeks in 1898. 

One night they heard footsteps outside their door. The sounds came up almost to the door. There was a loud stomp, and then nothing. The family supposed it was a neighbor playing tricks on them.

The old haunted house sat in a ravine off Dry Creek in the West end of Fort Madison.
(from The St. Louis Globe-Democrat. January 16, 1898.) 
It happened again night after night. The footsteps came right up to the door and stopped. When James opened the door there was nothing, just open space.

The next time he heard the sounds James was ready—he had a gun. When the footsteps stopped, he fired two shots through the door. Still nothing, except two holes in his door.

Another time, the steps didn’t stop at the front door. They walked around the house and then came up the basement stairs. A few days later Mrs. Dixon went to get a drink of water and she saw the shape of an old man with gray hair near the basement stairs. 

The next time the old man appeared, the family heard strange noises, and found pools of a liquid that looked like blood on the floor. 

That was all they could take. Mr. Dixon packed up his family and moved away. After that, hundreds of people flocked to the house hoping to solve the mystery.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Davenport, Iowa Girl Murdered By H. H. Holmes

“Yes, I was born with the devil in me,” wrote H. H. Holmes. “I could not help the fact I was a murderer any more than a poet can help the inspiration to song... I was born with the evil one standing as my sponsor...”

“I killed twenty-seven.” He would have murdered six more had circumstances, not intervened.[1]

The murderer’s real name was Herman Webster Mudgett—a New Hampshire farm boy, and the son of devout Methodist parents. Mudgett worked on his parent’s farm at Gilmanton until he graduated from high school, then taught school. The next year he married Clara Lovering, his high school sweetheart.

Teaching was good, but medicine was Mudgett’s ruling passion. In 1879, he enrolled in the medical program at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He studied anatomy under Professor Herdman, and dissection under the direction of Dr. Nahum Wight.

That led to digging up bodies at local cemeteries — some that he experimented on, and others that he sold to medical students for the cadaver lab. Soon, Mudgett moved on to bigger crimes.

He purchased a $15,000 insurance policy on his life, then passed a cadaver off as himself to collect on the policy. It was a deception he would repeatedly pull from then on.

Mudgett graduated from the Ann Arbor, medical school in 1884. He left his wife in 1887 and moved to Chicago where he became a clerk at a drugstore at No. 700 Sixty-third Street. Several months later, he owned the property and began construction on what would become known as his murder castle.

You know what they say? A new city, a new start.

Shortly after he moved to Chicago, Mudgett changed his name to H. H. Holmes.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Death of Colonel George Davenport at Rock Island

Colonel George Davenport was murdered on Friday, July 4th, 1845.
Colonel Davenport being tortured by his captors. 
(From The Banditti of the Prairie by Edward Bonney. 1855)

The rest of the family had gone to the Fourth of July festivities in Rock Island. The Colonel stayed home to keep watch over his property because he had seen several suspicious characters lurking around the island the day before.[1]

The gang—Robert Birch, William Fox, John Long, and Aaron Long—concocted their final plan at Grant Reddin’s house on Devil Creek. They traveled to Fort Madison, then on the steamboat Osprey to Albany, Illinois. Most likely, they fine-tuned their plan along the way.[2]

The robbery of Colonel Davenport was a “favorite scheme” of the gang. Everyone knew the Colonel was wealthy. The band expected to find at least $30,000 in cash and specie at his home on Rock Island. Instead, their take was closer to $600.

They camped in the woods about ten miles outside of Albany. That gave them time to work another scheme along the way. The story was there was a man named Miller nearby who kept a lot of money on his property. Fox decided to test him first before they made their move. He asked Miller to cash a ten-dollar banknote. When Miller couldn't cash the bill, they gave that idea up.[3]

The men walked back to Albany that night, stole a boat, and made their way downriver to Davenport’s island in the middle of the Mississippi. The gang bided their time waiting for the perfect moment. Aaron Long bought food and other supplies at Rock Island. John Long made a whiskey run on July 3rd.[4]

Later that day, the boys met with John Baxter, another gang member who lived in Rock Island.[5] They met behind J. W. Spencer’s place to hash out the final details.[6]

Baxter watched the Davenport house on the Fourth. When he was sure everyone had left except the Colonel, he let the band know it was time.[7]

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

John Looney W. W. Wilmerton Street Duel Rock Island, Illinois 1909

1922 reward poster for John Looney.
(Public Domain image sourced from Wikimedia Commons,)
Two local newspapermen exchanged bullets and bad words on the streets of Rock Island, Illinois on the afternoon of February 22, 1909.

The trouble had been brewing for nearly a year and stemmed from when W. W. Wilmerton purchased a controlling interest in the Rock Island News from John Looney. Just hours after the deal closed a dynamite bomb tore through the Looney building, destroying the paper’s press. That same year, three mysterious fires ravaged the same building. 

Wilmerton didn’t let any of that stop him. He renamed the paper the Tri-City Morning Journal and moved its operations to a different location.

Three weeks before the current troubles began, Looney reestablished The Rock Island News and began printing crazy tirades about Wilmerton and his family. Wilmerton took most of the allegations in stride. What he couldn’t overlook was an article Looney published saying he had breaking news that would land Wilmerton in prison. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Fight Between Sauk and Sioux Indians in 1824

Here is an interesting note from the Indian agent at Fort Armstrong (Rock Island), detailing the results of a Sauk war party that attacked a band of Sioux. They got the best of them at first, but their fortune soon changed and the Sauk warriors barely made it away with their lives. (From The Wilmingtonian and Delaware Register. October 21, 1824.)

“A war party of Sauk Indians returned to their village in this vicinity, on the 8th, instant, from an expedition against the Sioux. They were all mounted and had been absent about thirty days. They report that they discovered on the 27th of August a large party of Sioux Indians, which they followed two days; that on the evening of the second day, they passed several large pits which had been dug by these Indians for defense; that on proceeding further, they found a great number of cattle which had been killed with arrows, and also one horse, and they soon after heard the sound of drums which apprised them of being in the neighborhood of their enemies; that the drums ceased beating about 12 o’clock at night, and that the party, which consisted of forty-five young men attacked the Sioux camp an hour or two before daybreak, and killed fifteen of their number; and took one prisoner, a girl of ten or twelve year of  age, and then retreated without the loss of a man; but they had not proceeded far, before they found themselves surrounded by a numerous party of the Sioux, and having no other alternative, they fought their way through them, and, in doing this lost their prisoner, and had eight of their number and two wounded. The wounded have returned with the party, but the dead were left in possession of the enemy.

They were so closely pursued by the Sioux that they lost several of their horses, and most of their blankets, and returned nearly naked, and in a state of starvation. The Sauks sup
pose that the Sioux belong to the Sussitong or Sussitoah band and that the cattle which they found dead, are the same that crossed Des Moines, about six days since; several of the war party who saw them at the time they crossed the river, say, that the drove consisted of nearly one hundred head, and that it was in charge of five Americans and that they had along with them, ten horses and mules, and that they presumed they were bound to St. Peter’s. They further say, that they saw a horse and a mule that belonged to the drovers in the possession of the Sioux, on the morning of the action, and that it is their opinion that the drovers have been massacred by them.

Fort Armstrong - Sept. 9.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Black Hawk and Keokuk Meet Artist George Catlin in New York City - 1837

George Catlin as painted by William Fisk
(public domain image taken from Wikimedia Commons.
In public domain because artist died over 100 years ago)
During their whirlwind tour of the East Coast following the Black Hawk War, Black Hawk and Keokuk visited one of George Catlin’s presentations at the Stuyvesant Institute in New York. It’s an interesting look at one of Catlin’s shows and what the Indians thought of his paintings. This account is from the (New York) Morning Herald, October 26, 1837.

Keokuk, Black Hawk, and their chiefs? Their appearance at the Stuyvesant Institute.

A considerable excitement was created yesterday in our city, by the arrival of the Sacs and Foxes, lowas, and other Indians at this city from Washington.

The National Hotel and the City Hotel where they are staying was at an early hour besieged by immense numbers of the curious, who were anxious to get a peep at the renowned red man.

The place most thronged was the Stuyvesant Institute, where it was understood that they would appear at a lecture given by Mr. Catlin, upon themselves and brethren.

They took their departure from the lower part of the city in an omnibus, and their wild cry as it resounded along Broadway, must have astonished many of the peaceful citizens, who were not aware what sort of a freight the vehicle carried.

The Stuyvesant Institute was densely crowded in every part, a few minutes after the opening of the doors, and numbers must have doubtless gone away—unable to obtain admittance for love or money. Among the audience, was a large number of the fair sex. The Sacs and Foxes sat at the left of the lecturer, the lowas at the right.

Black Hawk's Account of Tecumseh's Death at the Battle of Thames

Here’s another look at the death of Tecumseh as told by Black Hawk to an old settler from Illinois. It was first published in the Baltimore American. This version is from the Liberty (Mississippi) Advocate, December 20, 1838.

Chief Black Hawk ( from The
History of Clinton County, Iowa. 1879)
Hearing; of the death of the Sauk Chieftain Black Hawk, I am induced to make you the following communication, which may be interesting to some of your readers.

During a residence of several years in what is now the territory of loway, I had
many opportunities of seeing and conversing with the noted warrior, and often look back with feelings of great pleasure to the many tokens of goodwill and friendship that he has frequently bestowed upon me. His lodge was always open to the stranger, and he was ever ready to share that with him which he might most want, either his furs and blankets for a couch or his corn and venison for a repast. He always spoke in terms of high regard of the whites, saying that in war he" fought like a brave man, but in peace, he wished to forget that his hand had ever been raised against them. His career as a warrior commenced at a very early age; when he was but fourteen years old, his father, Pawheese, led a war party against the Osages in which expedition he accompanied him; they succeeded in reaching the village of the Osages, which they attacked, and after a very severe encounter, they routed their enemies and burnt their town. In this battle, Black Hawk's father was killed, but he revenged his death by killing and scalping the Osage who had slain him. He was fond of recounting his early exploits, and often boasted of his being at the right hand of Tecumseh when the latter was killed at the battle of the Thames. His account of the death of this distinguished warrior was related to me by himself, during an evening that I spent in his lodge some winters ago. In the course of our talk, I asked him if he was with Tecumseh when he was killed.

He replied: “I was, and I will now tell you all a
bout it. Tecumseh, Shaubinne and Caldwell, two Pottawattamie chiefs, and myself were seated on a log near our campfire, filling our pipes for a smoke, on the morning of the battle, when word came from the British general that he wished to speak to Tecumseh. He went immediately, and after staying some time rejoined us, taking his seat without saying a word, when Caldwell, who was one of his favorites, observed, my father, what are we to do? shall we fight the Americans? Yes. my son," replied Tecumseh. "We shall go into their very smoke, but you are now wanted by the general. Go, my son, I never expect to see you again."

Establishing a Fire Department in Burlington Iowa

The city of Burlington, Iowa established its fire department on January 5th, 1841. By today's standards the ordinance sounds more like a dress code, and a list of penalties for not obeying orders, but in its day, it established a set of ground rules to ensure fires were extinguished in a timely manner.

The ordinance was originally published in The Hawkeye and Iowa Patriot on January 14, 1841.

An ordinance establishing a Fire Department in the city of Burlington [Iowa].

Sec. 1. Be it ordained by the Mayor and aldermen of the city of Burlington, that there shall be appointed by the common council of said city, one chief, and two assistant engineers whose duty it shall be in case of fire to go the place of the fire, and give such orders for the purpose of extinguishing the fire, as they shall deem most fit and proper, the chief engineer always taking command when present.

Sec. 2. The Chief Engineer shall at all times when on duty wear a white frock or hunting coat, a white leather coat with the word “Chief Engineer” painted upon the front of the same, and shall provide himself with a white speaking trumpet, with the words “Chief Engineer” painted upon the same.

Sec. 3. The first and second engineers, shall provide themselves with, and always wear on duty, a brown frock or hunting coat, a black leather hat with their titles painted upon the same, a black speaking trumpet with their respective titles painted upon the same.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Hanging Patrick Hand at Lyons, Iowa

Three men knocked on the door of William Barlow's Whisky Hollow saloon early in the morning on May 8, 1876.

Barlow stumbled to the door in his night clothes, assuming the men wanted a quick drink or smoke. Unfortunately, the men had something more sinister on their minds. They pushed Barlow around and demanded that he give them all his money.

Barlow recognized one of the men as Patrick Hand, “a notorious vagrant, profligate and desperado, who has lived in and about Lyons for many years and is known to every saloonkeeper and police officer within a radius of many miles.”[1]

When Barlow refused to give them any money, the intruders threw him to the ground and began to kick and beat him. One of the men rifled Barlow’s pockets and took $7.00.

When Barlow’s wife tried to stop them, someone took a shot at her. She escaped and returned with help. By then, the bandits had disappeared, carrying away most of Barlow’s liquor, cigars, and money. 

Barlow survived the attack but was insensible when found. At first, he was not expected to survive.

Hand was arrested about six o’clock that afternoon in nearby Clinton, Iowa by Lyons police officers Patrick Rowen and John Holmes.[2] They locked him in an engine house, where they clamped a ball and chain to his legs to prevent his escape.

Officer Rowen stood watch through the night. He checked on Hand at two o’clock and “saw the prisoner still asleep in a drunken slumber.”[3] Assuming Hand would sleep through the night Rowen did not check on him again until four o’clock in the morning.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Iowa and Illinois Frontier Before 1832

"Rock River was a beautiful country. I liked my town, my cornfields, and the home of my people. I fought for them." Black Hawk

Before the Black Hawk War, the territory along the east bank of the Mississippi River was an unbroken wilderness of alter­nating prairies, oak groves, rivers, and marshes. The United States government had not surveyed any portion of it.  Few explorers, other than Lewis and Clark and Zebulon Pike, had explored the lands. Settlers were few and far between. The Indians themselves rarely ventured off their regular trails. A few trading posts served the small mining settle­ments in the lead regions at Galena and Mineral Point.

Galena and Fort Armstrong were connected by an Indian trail that ran along the east bank of the Mississippi. Galena, Peoria, and the settlements in southern and eastern Illinois were linked by a coach road known as Kellogg’s Trail.

This was the only wagon road north of the Illinois River. A daily mail coach traveled this road and was often crowded with people going to and from the lead mines. Very few people lived in this barren wilderness, the few who did serve the travelers, providing meals and keeping stage teams. Among them were “Old Man" Kellogg, at Kellogg's Grove; Mr. Winter, on Apple River; John Dixon, at Dixon's ferry, on Rock River; "Dad Joe," at Dad Joe's Grove; Henry Thomas, on West Bureau Creek; and Charles S. Boyd, at Boyd's Grove.

Indian trails connected the villages with their hunting and fishing grounds. Both Indians and whites traveled on these wilderness roads.

One of these connected Galena with Chicago, by way of Big Foot's Pottawatomie vil­lage, at the head of the body of water now known as Lake Geneva. There was a lesser used road be­tween Dixon's Ferry and Chicago. Two well-traveled roads led to Fort Winnebago, at the portage of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers, and to Fort Howard, on the lower Fox.

The most traveled Indian road in Illinois was the great Sac trail, extending across the state from Black Hawk's village to the south shore of Lake Michigan and from there to Malden. This was the path Black Hawk and the British Band traveled to visit the British agency.

The largest settlement between Galena and the Illinois River was on Bureau Creek. Close to thirty families lived there. Smaller settlements were scattered around Peru, La Salle, Ottawa, Newark, Holder-man's Grove, and on Indian Creek. The lead-mining district in Michigan Territory (now Wisconsin) was clustered around Mineral Point and Dodgeville. Chicago was still a minor village, consisting of two or three hundred homes protected by Fort Dearborn.

The settlers were for the most part backwoodsmen from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Most of them were dirt poor, owning little more than their cabins, the clothes they wore, a few rough tools, teams of "scrub" horses or yokes of cattle, and some barnyard stock. They were bold, fearless, skilled marksmen, accustomed to ex­posure, privations, and danger. 

Black Hawk War - Part I

The Black Hawk War was a mix-up of frontier madness, mayhem, and murder. Illinois Governor John Reynolds called out the militia and raised thousands of volunteer troops. General Winfield Scott marched his regulars half way across the country to Fort Armstrong at Rock Island. Lieutenant Colonel Zachary Taylor led a group of infantrymen in the fighting.

Every yokel and backwoods frontiersmen with a grudge against the Indians joined the fray. A slew of future Presidents, Congressman, Senators, and military leaders built their careers off of the Indian’s misfortune.

Abraham Lincoln served as a frontier ranger and spy. Two years later he began his political career as an Illinois Congressman. Zachary Taylor served in the heat of several battles. Later he was a hero of the Mexican War, and soon after that President of the United States. Winfield Scott was already distinguished for his service in the War of 1812. After the Black Hawk War, he negotiated treaties with several Indian tribes that ceded over sixty million acres of land to the United States. He earned more fame in the Mexican War, and in 1852 he ran unsuccessfully for President on the Whig ticket. Jefferson Davis was on furlough for most of the war but returned in time to escort the prisoner Black Hawk down the river to Jefferson Barracks at St. Louis. During the Civil War, he served as President of the Confederacy.

Four future Illinois Governors served in the war: John Wood, Thomas Ford, Thomas Carlin, and Joseph Duncan. Colonel Henry Dodge was later appointed Governor of the Wisconsin Territory.

There were several points where bloodshed could have been avoided altogether. Instead, the opportunities were bungled.

The first chance to end the campaign peacefully had come before a single shot was fired. Had Stillman’s men respected the flag of truce carried by Black Hawk’s braves, the war would have ended right there. Instead, they brutally killed one of the flag bearers and precipitated the first battle of the war.

Another opportunity to end the war presented itself just before the battle of Bad Axe when Black Hawk’s braves attempted to hail Captain Throckmorton onboard the steamboat Warrior. American troops disregarded the Indian’s flag of truce and fired upon them. What followed over the next few days was the massacre of nearly seven hundred men, women, and children of the Sac tribe.

What’s remarkable about the Black Hawk War is that it set the tone for future conflicts between the whites and the Indians in the opening of the American West. The land was set aside exclusively, by treaty, for the use of the Indians. As pioneers moved further westward, they encroached upon the Indian lands, building homes, fencing in their lands. When the Indians complained to authorities, their concerns went unanswered.

In the troubles that followed the settlers beat or killed some of the Indians who got in their way. When the Indians retaliated, the frontier was thrown into a panic, and troops were called in to save the day. Frontier troopers attacked and pushed the Indians further westward when by treaty, they were bound to protect the Indian lands from the white settlers who were squatting upon them.