How our lives changed 

Palmer College of Chiropractic
1000 Brady St
Davenport, IA 52803

Augustana College
639 38 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

H & R Block
1715 W Locust St
Davenport, IA 52804

E & J
200 24 Ave
Rock Island, IL 61201

American Institute of Commerce
1801 E Kimberly Rd
Davenport, IA 52807

Rock Island County Farm Bureau
1601 52 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Hempel Pipe and Supply
951 S Rolff St
Davenport, IA 52802

McGladrey & Pullen, LLP
Certified Public Accountants and Consultants
220 North Main St Suite 900
Davenport, Ia 52801

McGladrey & Pullen, LLP
Certified Public Accountants and Consultants
600 35 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Immigrants from all over shared common dream

By Kurt Allemeier, Dispatch/Argus Staff writer

The sprouting towns that would blossom into the Quad-Cities were seeded by immigrants from many countries who sought jobs in the area's factories.

European immigrants came first, in the 19th century. The factories and lumber mills built at this juncture of water power and rail transportation craved workers.

George Davenport was the first immigrant, arriving at Fort Armstrong on Rock Island (now known as Arsenal Island) in the early 1800s. Born in Lincolnshire, England, Mr. Davenport was contracted to provide supplies at Fort Armstrong. He later resigned his position to trade with the local American Indian population.

In April 1847, 17 German families arrived in Davenport, followed by another 250 Germans that summer. By 1854, one-third of Davenport's population was German, supporting a German-language newspaper, several musical societies, a German free school, a theater and the Turner Society, according to ``The Quad Cities: an American Mosaic.''

``The Swedish Immigrant Community in Transition,'' edited by J. Iverne Dowie, and ``The River and the Prairie: A History of the Quad-Cities,'' by William Roba, also tell the story of immigrants to the area.

German immigrants and their liberal politics propelled the area's abolitionist fervor in the 1850s and created an anti-war air before American entered World War I. However, anti-German groups thrived in the area during the Great War. The German-language paper published its final issue just a month before the Armistice was declared.

Davenport tended to attract more immigrants -- from Scotland, Ireland, England and Hungary -- than her sister cities growing on the Mississippi. However, when Moline needed laborers in the 1850s, it welcomed Swedish, Belgian and German immigrants.

In the 1880s, companies with newly automated assembly lines offered low-wage jobs that did not require skilled labor. These jobs often fell into the hands of immigrants from Belgium and Greece.

Swedes were drawn to the area in part because of John Deere's preference for Swedish workers. In 1875, Swedish immigrants moved Augustana College -- founded in Chicago in 1860 and later shifted to Paxton, Ill. -- to Rock Island, choosing a site on the bluffs of the Mississippi River.

In the 1880s and 1890s, a steady stream of Belgian workers found their way to Moline; more came in the wake of World War I, which devastated their homeland. Moline's Belgian population would become the second-largest in the United States, behind only Detroit.

Influxes of black and Mexican immigrants came to the area after the turn of the century, many of them drawn by the Rock Island Lines shops. In recent years the source of immigrants has turned to Asia. Chinese immigrants found their way to the Quad-Cities in the 1960s, followed by immigrants from India. Many Laotians and Vietnamese came in the 1970s, after the Vietnam War.

Copyright 1999, Moline Dispatch Publishing Co.