David Sears was one of the founders of Moline. In 1838 he built a dam between Arsenal Island and the Moline mainland (across Sylvan Slough) and opened a mill. He eventually became a major landowner on Arsenal Island, at least until the federal government purchased his holdings in 1865. Sears used the money buy land south of Rock Island and on Van Druff Island in 1867. Once again he built a dam to attract more manufacturing. (The man needed to make some money – he had seven children with his first wife and six with his second.) The settlement that grew around this area, bounded roughly from 6th Street to 9th Street and 44th Avenue to the Rock River, was incorporated as Searstown in 1884; son David B. Sears served three terms as mayor. For a while, Searstown did OK with a paper mill and a cotton factory but steam power began to replace water power and Searstown began a slow economic slide. In 1915, Rock Island annexed Searstown and the town faded into obscurity.
© Dean Klinkenberg, 2009