The City of Walcott was originally platted in 1854. The first passenger train route west of the Mississippi River started in 1855 and helped Walcott grow. William Walcott, who was a director of Chicago and Rock Island Railroad, donated $500 in 1855 for the construction of a school building, with the stipulation that the fledgling town along the railroad tracks near Davenport be named after him.
Long before Walcott was even a vision to William Walcott, it was a great expanse of open prairie inhabited by the Kaskaskia Indians. The Kaskaskias were later driven out of the Quad Cities area by the renegade Mesquaki tribe. This tribe, a splinter of the Canadian Iorquois, was America’s largest Indian nation.
In 1857, much of the Walcott land was sold for as low as 75 cents an acre, enabling many German and Scotch-Irish immigrants to settle in the area. Many of the Scotch-Irish worked for the railroad builders and settled on the farmland south and west of the town. While they contributed much to the early development of Walcott, around 1871 they began to move farther west. Most of the German settlers were from Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany, and some came from eastern and southern Germany. By 1910, nearly nine-tenths of the farmland in Scott County was owned by German immigrants or their descendents.
A petition for incorporation was signed and presented to Judge C.M. Waterman of the District Court at Davenport on June 5, 1894. At that time, the total population was 354 people. The election was held on July 7, 1894, and of the eighty-one votes cast, fifty-four were in favor of the incorporation. The result of the election was approved and filed by the District Court on July 14, 1894.
Long before most small towns thought of supplying their citizens with water, Walcott had plans for an efficient and adequate water system. Walcott was the first rural Scott County community to build a water system and water tower. The installation was completed in 1897, and provided the citizens of Walcott with inexpensive water service, good drinking water, and improved fire protection. In 1914, the first sewage disposal system was built. Lagoons for the sanitation system were installed in the late 1960’s and three cells were added to the lagoon system in 1975.
As early as 1897, the people of Walcott banded together to provide an organized way of fighting the terror and destructiveness of fire. In those early days, the department consisted of a small number of volunteer firemen and two hand pulled hose carts. In 1931, the town built a fire station and city hall. Today, that same building houses the Fire Department and City Hall.
The Walcott Savings Bank was organized in 1894 with a capital stock of $30,000. On April 1, 1904, the Farmers Savings Bank began business with at capital stock of $25,000. In 1911, Walcott was declared the richest town in the USA in consideration of the bank deposits for its population of 300, according to Dunn & Co. in the Bankers’ Journal of New York. During the depression year of 1931, the two banks were consolidated and Walcott Trust and Savings Bank was formed.
The original town was expanded in 1962 to include Highway 6. Additional ground was annexed in 1973 to include the Interstate 80 interchange area and the French and Hecht Building, which currently houses G&R Integration. In the early 1990’s, quadrants adjacent to and near the Interstate 80 interchanged were also annexed in. The annexation of the area near Interstate 80 has increased the area’s valuation significantly. Many businesses, including the World’s largest Truckstop, Iowa 80 Truckstop, is located within city limits.
In 1997, Walcott joined in a sister city partnership with Bredenbek, Germany. Bredenbek is located in northern Germany. Since then, residents from Walcott have traveled to Bredenbek and residents of Bredenbek have visited us in Walcott. In May of 2001, we had a student from the University of Applied Sciences for Public Administration in Kiel come to Walcott for practical training. Buergermeister Hans-Werner Hamann, Bredenbek, helped to arrange the training with us.
Walcott, population of 1,551, is a town of distinctive character and culture, because of the people who have made their homes here. They brought with them the special characteristics and personalities of their mode of living.
The Walcott Historical Society has photos and a pictorial book for sale. A 16×20 1869 birds eye view of Walcott for $25.00 and a 2015 aerial print, 16×20 for $50 and 11×14 for $40. “Walcott – The Early Years, 1854-1954” is a pictorial book containing historic Walcott photographs from the City’s first 100 years. Call Karen Puck at 563.284.6438 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow the Walcott Historical Society on FaceBook or visit their website for more historical facts about Walcott!