In the 1830s, two towns sprang to life on the Iowa bank of the Mississippi River. The village of Rockingham was settled in 1835 across from the mouth of the Rock River. The village seemed ideally located—except for the inconvenient fact that flooding turned the town into an island every year. In spite of its wet location, the village had one hundred residents by the summer of 1836, twice as many as its neighbor, Davenport. The town of Davenport grew very slowly after its founding by Antoine LeClaire, using a contentious—and corrupt—victory over Rockingham for the county seat to solidify its future. In the first round of voting, Davenporters helped their cause by importing lead miners from Dubuque and paying them ten barrels of whiskey to vote. After two more controversial and equally corrupt elections, Davenport won the county seat and Antoine LeClaire donated land and $3,000 to build the first courthouse. Davenport annexed Rockingham a short time later.
© Dean Klinkenberg, 2009