30 December 2012

Davenport Glucose Works

A recent discovery of a family member in an 1894-1895 directory for Davenport, Iowa, indicated that the relative worked at the Davenport Glucose works.

A fan of Genealogy Tip of the Day located the same page that I did on the Davenport Public Library's website. I'm guessing that she performed a Google search for "davenport glucose works" which is how I located the page.

Until the city directory reference, I had never heard of the place. The library's blog gave a history of the glucose works, which I won't repeat here. However, it was a dangerous place to work--as were many factories in the 1890s.

There was a fire in the factory in 1897. I am not certain if the relative was still working in the glucose works at the time of the fire or not. Based upon information in the library's blog post, there are probably no extant employment records. My option for determining if the relative worked at the plant at the time of the explosion is to search city directories after the 1894-1895 reference that has already been located.

The newspaper accounts give the names of those killed.

Date: Friday, August 20, 1897  

Paper: St. Louis Republic (St. Louis, MO)

--obtained on Genealogybank.com

Date: Friday, August 20, 1897  

Paper: St. Louis Republic (St. Louis, MO)--obtained on 

It may seem like a little too concerned with business and perhaps a little callous when the newspaper states that the works will only be closed "but a few days."

Of course, the other employees left behind would not be paid for those days they were home due to the fire. They were probably thankful that the closure would not drift on for months, perhaps causing them financial problems.


Don't just Google the name of your ancestor's employer. Consider searching for newspaper mentions of the company on websites like Genealogybank.com and Ancestry.com.