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Birth of Bettendorf: Iowa Time Machine July 1, 1857

Iowa Time Machine ⏰: On July 1, 1857, William P. Bettendorf was born. The far-famed inventor of the sulky plow and inventor of the Bettendorf axel company finds remembrance in the city of Bettendorf in the Quad Cities.

Born in Germany, Bettendorf immigrated to the United States at the age of eighteen. After stints in Missouri and Kansas, Bettendorf eventually found his way to the Moline Plow Company in Illinois. An opportunity to design wheels for Eagle Manufacturing with his brother, J.W. Bettendorf, brought William to Davenport, Iowa. In 1889, the Bettendorf brothers went into business independently, founding the Bettendorf Metal Wheel Company.

Over the early 1900s, Bettendorf continued to innovate. In 1905 he sold a patented design for machinery utilized in manufacturing steel gears to International Harvester. In 1902, a fire at the Bettendorf factory led the brothers to buy a farm a few miles from Davenport along the Davenport, Rock Island, and North Western Railway. A settlement grew alongside the new factory, and in 1903 locals voted to name the town Bettendorf to honor the entrepreneurial brothers.

William Bettendorf started construction on a 22-acre palatial estate overlooking his namesake city in a Spanish Revival style. However, just a week before the family planned to move into the estate in June 1910, Bettendorf died. After his widow and son occupied the house for several years, the site eventually became the Iowa Masonic Nursing Home. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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