Pleasant Valley

NOTE: See the Quad Cities overview for regional information on tourism centers, festivals, and getting around.

History

Post Office in Pleasant Valley

Post Office in Pleasant Valley

European settlement in Pleasant Valley began when Roswell Spencer built a log cabin in 1833. The following winter, the family of J.B. Chamberlin moved into the very same cabin and stuck around long enough to be considered Pleasant Valley’s first permanent settlers. In 1840, the town tried to ensure its future relevance by bidding for the county seat, but, unfortunately for Pleasant Valley, they lost to Davenport. In 1856, Spencer, now a permanent resident, platted the village of Pleasant Valley, first calling it Valley City. In subsequent years he built a sawmill, a frame house, and a grist mill. Stones from the grist mill were used to build Trinity Lutheran Church, and the church later became the post office—the only one in the United States that is housed in a former church, for what it’s worth. In spite of the village’s early promise, growth was minimal and the town has never incorporated.

For much of its existence, Pleasant Valley was marked by a distinctive aroma—onions. In the 1850s, Captain Isaac Hawley planted the first crop. By 1858, several others had joined him and a robust onion farming industry had taken root. Henry Schutter arrived in 1856 and eventually became the most successful farmer of the bunch, managing hundreds of acres and earning the nickname The Onion King. The Pleasant Valley onion farmers were “organic” before organic was cool. They used homegrown seeds and developed their own varieties; weeds were picked by hand instead of being controlled with herbicides; farmers enriched their soil with manure instead of chemical fertilizers; onions were harvested manually instead of by machine. Onion farming lasted for generations, but a 1927 infestation of Yellow Dwarf virus led to a slow decline in the industry, as many farmers switched to other crops or moved out of the area. Even as the industry was waning, onion farming was an important safety net for many area families during the Depression. In the late 1990s, Stanley Schutter, the great grandson of The Onion King, retired, closing the last remaining onion farm in the area.

Pleasant Valley is included in these products: 

[product id=”3418″] [product id=”3196″]

Attractions
Lock and Dam 14 Recreation Area (182nd St.; 309.794.4524) is just north of the village; it has a boat ramp, picnic tables, and two hiking trails. There is a rustic trail along the river that is accessed by the boat ramp, but a more interesting hike is the one-and-a-half mile trail on Smith Island. To reach the picnic tables and Smith Island, you get to walk across the top of a lock gate, in this case the auxiliary lock gate. Cool.

Resources

  • Post Office: 24621 Valley Drive; 563.332.6232.

Heading upriver? Check out LeClaire.

Heading downriver? Check out Riverdale.

© Dean Klinkenberg, 2009

By | 2016-10-21T15:29:32+00:00 April 12th, 2009|Iowa|3 Comments

About the Author:

Dean Klinkenberg, the Mississippi Valley Traveler, is on a mission to explore the rich history, diverse cultures, and varied ecosystems of the Mississippi River Valley, from the Headwaters in northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. He is the author of Rock Island Lines, a mystery, and several guidebooks for the Mississippi Valley.

3 Comments

  1. Chris Burleigh March 28, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    My mother was born in Pleasant Valley in 1914. Her parents were Frank Avant and Katie Lee Fleming Avant. I can find no info on Katie’parents or family.

  2. Dean Klinkenberg November 15, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Hi, Ken. Thanks for reading my post about Pleasant Valley; I’m glad you enjoyed it. I looked through my collection of old photos and didn’t find any from Pleasant Valley but I do remember seeing some when I was doing my research. I think the Davenport Public Library would be a good place to start, specifically the archives section in the lower level. They were very good at helping me find the right materials for my research. Let me know how it goes.

    Dean

  3. ken brinkley November 15, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    i enjoyed your artical of pleasant valley and stan schutter.i worked as a young man for stan in the late 70s and am looking for old photos if any can b found, maybe you have an idea that could help. thanks

Leave A Comment