Thayer County NEGenWeb Project
Davenport Historical Highlights 1872 - 1972

Submitted by Marilynn Keim


1872 - 1972

1872—The town of Davenport was laid out by the Nebraska Land and Town Company who had purchased it from Mr. John Littig.

1873—We were incorporated on January 13th.

1874—On a hot July afternoon the grasshoppers came devouring every green thing, the crops were damaged or destroyed.

1875—William H. Jennings came to town and engaged in the banking business with Pratt & Anderson Co.

1876—Adam Littig, son of John, came with his family to improve some of his father's land, it was he who named the town Davenport after his home in Iowa.

1877—School dist. No. 47 was formed on March 2, containing 10 sections of land, in June of this year, there was only one pupil of school age in all ten sections.

1878—The first school was built during the summer months. The teacher was Miss Emma Adams, who taught a 3 month term during the winter and was paid $18.00 a month.

1879—The first doctor to arrive was Dr. VanderWalker, he also ran a small store, acted as postmaster and conducted the first services for the Methodist church.

1880—The first newspaper was published by a Mr. Green Davis, it ran the Davenport and Carleton news, no copies of this paper are available and the name is long since forgotten.

1881—A "Methodist Society," was organized by Dr. and Mrs. Vander Walker.

1882—Dr. Snowden arrived fresh from Jefferson Medical College in Penn. He remained in Davenport until he passed away at the age of 92. The Church of Christ was also organized this year.

1883—The school bought the half block of land where the present school stands and built a two story frame building.

1884—The first Methodist Church was built, the labor was mostly donated and the cash layout was $500.00, Rev. A. L. Beggs was pastor. The first Church of Christ was also built and Mr. Bill Owen did the preaching.

1885—The cemetery was laid out and an association was formed.

1886—Chas. Slagel owned the first industry, it was called "The Art Co." and they made index files and rubber stamps.

1887—Mr. A. J. Croft came as a pharmacist and was in business here for over 50 years.

1888—The Northwestern Railroad came through and we were known as the largest shipping point for cattle and grain between Grand Island and Marysville, Kas.

1889—In February a fire destroyed twelve business places on the east side of main street.

1890—Taken from the Davenport Lancet, Feb. 14, 1890 "C. J. Lichty marketed 10 hogs, 10½ months old, weighing 308½ lbs. each, bringing $3.30 a hundred. How is that for a result of young hogs?"

1891—An opera house was built, it was used for meetings, elections, school programs, wild west and medicine shows.

1892—St. Peter's Lutheran church was organized on March 22.

1893—Christ Lutheran built a new church, the first pastor was Rev. C. W. Baker, his pay was $650.00, moving expenses paid, feed for 1 cow and 1 horse and cobs for fuel.

1894—Mr. W. H. Jennings organized the Jennings State Bank, it has been owned and operated by the Jennings family since.

1895—L. H. Surber was a pioneer barber here from 1895 to 1927 when he sold his shop to Robert Sein and moved to Denver.

1896—The first cement sidewalks were put in by Charlie Voigt.

1898—Mr. and Mrs. Charles Voigt from New York, bought the hotel and operated it until 1945. The first Gideon Bible in the world was placed in the Voigt hotel, it is now in Gideon headquarters in Chicago.

1900—From 1900 to the years of the first World War were golden years in our history. The empty prairies were filled with farm homes, and district schools. Roads were improved and a lot of people had acquired electricity, telephones and cars.

1902—Mr. Ben Showalter was appointed postmaster, the office was moved into the brick building where LeRoy's T.V. is now. The wheat yield this summer was 10 bushel to the acre.

1903—On July 1, the first mail was delivered under the new Rural Free Delivery Act. There were three routes and carriers were Deal, Duncan & Padgett. Special wagons were secured and regulation mail boxes were sold to patrons.

1906—Mr. Good Beam built an electric light plant which furnished power for the town until 1915, when Southern Nebr. Power began serving Davenport and surrounding towns. The same year Mr. Gorr installed the first gasoline engine in his feed mill and the Corner Drug Store was advertising a stock of Edison Talking machines for Christmas.

1908—This was the first year that the high school class went on sneak day, they spent the day down by the Blue River south of town.

1909—Roy Scott bought the furniture store from William Pike, he expanded the business until it was known as one of the best in the surrounding territory. The new brick schoolhouse was also put up.

1910—Davenport High School graduated the first class from the 12th grade. The graduates were Donald Showalter, Verna Marr, Ralph Gray, Pearl Fosnot and Russel Heimburger.

1911—The town board passed an ordinance to have the hitching post taken off of main street, a couple of these old time conveniences are still on the west side of A street.

1912—St. Peter's Lutheran congregation was organized, only seven families made up the first congregation and were the charter members who signed the constitution. The Corner Drug Store was robbed and the safe blown up with nitro glycerine. Bloodhounds were brought in and the robbers were trailed to Sedan where they boarded a westbound train.

1913—The St. Peters Lutheran Church was dedicated June 1st. Senior class went down to the Blue River for a picnic.

1914—The Lambert Block Building on the corner of 2nd & B Street was built.

1915—Light Bonds issue voted on and passed 81-50. Lights were turned on Dec. 20. Sunday baseball was voted on and passed 55-43.

1916—The Jennings State Bank and the Farmers and Merchants Banks were built.

1917—Fire destroyed all but the two Banks on the West side of Main Street and the Lutheran Church.

1918—The present Christ's Lutheran Church was built. Dedicated May 12th. Armistice Day was celebrated Nov. 11.

1919—The year of the Flu epidemic.

1920—The American Legion was organized. The Journal Office and Doctor Buildings were built. The Wolcott Theatre was remodeled. Davenport Woman's Club was organized on June 22. Roy McAdams and G. H. Portwood opened their Grocery stores.

1921—Library opened in Dr. Milbourne's office with 410 volumes. First Old Settlers Picnic sponsored by D.W.C.

1922—Old Settlers Picnic. Also Home Talent play with Mrs. Moody of the Hazel McOwen Stock Co. directing.

1923—Char. Buck advertised Ford Sedans and Coupes for $590 and Touring car $298. Dr. C. C. Camp, dentist came to Davenport. Served the Community for 40 years. The Library moved to the building north of the Hotel.

1924—Dr. F. A. Mountford started his practice here in July.

1925—The Slagel greenhouse was built. The St. Joe and Grand Island depot at the end of Main Street was torn down.

1926—Election to be held to vote on annex to the school. Defeated June 2nd 135-80. Portwood store was robbed.

1927—The town bought a new fire truck costing $485. More new books were purchased for the library.

1928—The new brick Library was erected and dedicated to the youth. Every conceivable way to earn money was used.

1929—Every one remembers the Bank Moratorium. The Town Board granted a franchise to the Kan.-Nebr. Gas Co.

1930—A Bakery was added to the business houses by Mr. Valentine. Gas mains were installed and the Main Street curbed.

1931—The Church of Christ remodeled their building. Telephone Co. installed new metallic cables. Baby ostriches were exhibited on the Poultry Field Day June 11.

1932—Valentines Bakery burned and was replaced.

1933—The W.C.T.U. held their county meeting here. The town bought a new fire truck.

1934—H. H. Row was appointed Postmaster. A new village pump was installed.

1935—This is the beginning of the Depression years, dust storms and drouth. Many men were out of work and the W.P.A. took the names of men who wanted work.

1936—D.W.C. had an out of date Party. Every attic, trunk and closet was ransacked just as we are doing this year. Notice in the Peoples Journal - "You wanted 'em, we got 'em, now patrionize 'em." Matinee Wolcott Theatre. Stores had been opened on Sunday mornings and it was decided to close.

1937—D.W.C. sponsored an "Amateur Hour" June 28. Tickets 10-15-25c, 3 votes with each ticket. S.R.O. The grasshoppers came in hordes, cleaning up as they went. There is the story of the lady who heard a weak knock on the door. She went to see who it was and there she saw a full grown grasshopper with a tomato, "I would like some salt, I'm tired of eating them without." Believe it or not.

1938—Presidents Birthday Ball was held Jan. 28. Music by the Rhythm Kings. H. H. Row Chairman. Dust storms Jan. 11 and 13. They were called the block Blizzards. Town was surveyed for the Sewer. There were 95 workers on the project. The school board had 75 applications for Superintendent. The music teacher Otto Hasik was hired.

1939—Mr. Scott bought a new Buick Funeral coach. First concert of Davenport School band held in the Methodist church Sunday Feb. 12 under the direction of Mr. Hasik. Old Flag with 36 stars was found under the roof of the Lumber yard by A. H. Reinke. Our boys were beginning to go with the Armed Forces.

1940—Herman Jennings donated the two lots east of the Methodist church to the Woman's Club for a park. They had it plowed and the business men donated $10.25 for grass seed. All the trees were given by people in and around Davenport. The Boy Scouts under the direction of their Scoutmaster, C. C. Mersch built the fireplace.

1941—The Alumni celebrated the schools Golden Anniversary May 29 with class reunions, parties, and a banquet and a general meeting in the Methodist Church.

1942—Davenport was without a newspaper for the first time as the Editor Desley Taylor closed down to go into the armed services.

1944—The Football team played its first game in Livings Pasture.

1945—The team changed to the Aufdenkamp Pasture.

1946—The present field was purchased from Jay Beavers for $400.00 and equipped with lights.

1947—Don Miller put down the first irrigation well on his farm west of town. Mr. Scott sold the furniture store to Lester Urbauer.

1949—Carl Pritts bought the Hardware store from G. A. Siekles. A summer concert under the direction of Harold Jagels was sponsored by the D.W.C.

1950—The public was again privileged to hear the Summer Concert.

1951—The High School Gymnasium was finished and ready for activities. 400 people enjoyed the Summer concert.

1952—Davenport P.T.A. was organized Jan. 30.

1953—Headlines for the Davenport News. "Farmers need Sharper Pencils and a lot of good advice when filing returns for the year 1952."

1954—The town honored Drs. F. A. Mountford and C. C. Camp on Feb. 25 for their 30 years of service to the town and Community. New vapor lights were installed and black topping streets began.

1955—The St. Joe and G.I. railroad ceased passenger service Jan. 1 when the motor made its last trip.

1957—Mason's moved into their new quarters.

1958—Bonds were voted for a new School Building. It opened in Sept. and was dedicated Nov. 23.

1960—The Portwood Store was sold to Roger Mountford. Pritts Hardware Store sold to Wayne Brown of Edgar.

1962—The New St. Peter's Lutheran Church was built and dedicated on Aug. 5.

1963—Thirteen miles of black top was built from Davenport to Highway 81.

1965—With consolidation and redistricting, there is a total of 62¾ sections of land in Dist. No. 47 with an assessment value of $3,567,369.00.

1966—Royal Hardinger resigned as manager of the Croft Drug Co. That leaves Davenport without a pharmacist and a dentist with Dr. Camp's death in 1963. B. J. Culbertson bought the store. On July 25 a Centennial and Achievement Day Program was held.

1967—The Davenport Lion's Club celebrated their 20th anniversary. The town celebrated Nebr. Centennial in July. David Crockett bought McAdams store Aug. 5.

1968—Several buildings of the Superior-Deshler Propane Co. burned to the ground. Marvin Vieselmeyer, the manager was badly burned.

1969—In honor of Mrs. M. M. Jennings 80th birthday her children carpeted and bought new furniture for the children's room of the Davenport Library. The Woman's Club carpeted the main room and stairway. Open House was held. In July on Achievement Day, 1,000 were served at the barbeque by the Lion's Club.

1970—Tragedy hit Davenport when six school children were killed in a school bus and truck collision. "Messiah" was presented by local chorus at the Methodist church under the direction of Mr. Vincent Boudreau.

1971—M.M. Jennings Jr. bought the McLeese Building, razed it, and erected a new modern bank. The Post Office moved into the building they vacated.

1972—Lion's Club celebrated their 25th anniversary. The Davenport Woman's Club celebrated their Golden Anniversary in May. 15 new houses were built in the last few years. The town bought the ground east of the Legion Hall for a park and recreation area. Grass and trees were planted. Proceeds from Achievement Day are used for this project. Dedication services will be held Sunday, July 16.

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