Q. How did Pershing Avenue get its name and when?
— Jack, Davenport
A. Pershing Avenue was named in honor of Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing during a visit to Davenport on Jan. 6, 1920. Pershing led American forces to victory in Europe during World War I. When he arrived by train that morning in Davenport, the weather was cold, but he received a warm reception from thousands. Crowds of people applauded, waved and yelled to greet the general.
Pershing also was greeted by city officials and top Rock Island Arsenal officials, but he opted to walk past them to first shake hands and salute former servicemen. It was only after meeting all of the veterans who bore the insignias of overseas divisions on their shoulders that he met with the "brass" in the reception committee. His visit was a planned inspection of the Rock Island Arsenal.
His visit to the area became so widely known that stores, offices and schools closed until later in the morning to allow the everyone to view or participate in the parade through downtown Davenport. Decorations and flags flew over every street corner.
Light snow turned into drizzling rain. Pershing was offered a closed car but opted to ride in an open convertible. "If these good people can stand it out in the weather to welcome me, I can ride in an open car to return the welcome," he said.
The parade went down as far as 14th Street and back downtown on Pershing Avenue, which had been Rock Island Street.
Pershing spent the rest of the day speaking with Moline officials, Augustana College students, Rock Island Masonic Temple members and Arsenal employees.
An evening gala was planned at the Hotel Blackhawk and the Davenport Coliseum.
Pershing led the American Expeditionary Force during World War I. He also served in combat during the Spanish-American War. He also led the campaign against Pancho Villa. He served as U.S. Army chief of staff from 1921-1924. He was born Sept. 13, 1860, in Laclede, Mo. He died July 15, 1948, in Washington, D.C.
Q. Have you heard of Native American code talkers during World War I? Can you tell me more about them?
— Bill, Rock Island
A. Just like the famed code talkers of World War II portrayed in the movie, "Windtalkers," there were Native American code talkers in World War I.
Members of the Choctaw nation served as code talkers during World War I, according to an article by Phillip Allen on choctawnation.com.
During World War I, the Germans were able to decipher Allied forces communications. Toward the end of the war, the Germans had tapped radio and telephone communications. A group of 19 young Choctaw men appeared on the scene using their own language to transmit messages that the Germans were never able to decipher.
More than 10,000 Native Americans served in the U.S. military during World War I.
To view a World War I photo gallery, read more about Quad-Citians in World War I, Gen. Pershing's visit to the Q-C or search our War Casualties Database visit qctimes.com/askthetimes.