Buffalo Historical Society Museum

In 1833 Capt. Benjamin Clark established a ferry between Andalusia Illinois and what is now Buffalo Iowa, which became noted as the first settlement of Black Hawk’s purchase.  After the Black Hawk war, in June of 1833, he purchased claims on the Mississippi river at Buffalo, Iowa, compromising 21/2 miles of river frontage, together with timberland amounting to about 2000 acres.  In December 1833, he moved his family to the Iowa side, finding at last, after many wanderings, the spot on which he wished to live and die.  His was the only white family between Dubuque and Flint Hills (now Burlington).

                In the summer of 1833, Captain Clark raised corn, beans and other vegetables, the first produce in Scott County.  In 1834, he had over 100 acres of wild land.  Capt Clark purchased a large tract of land at the mouth of Duck Creek, where he erected the first sawmill.

                In 1836, he disposed of a 2/3 interest in 90 acres of land to Capt. E.A. Mix and Dr. Pillsbury of Buffalo, New York for $30,000 part cash payment.  These three men at once laid out the town of Buffalo, naming it in honor of Buffalo, N.Y.  For a while it was called New Buffalo and West Buffalo, but these were soon dropped for Buffalo.  This was the first town laid out in what is now Scott County.

                In the season of 1835-36, Capt. Clark erected a hotel in Buffalo, 40x50 ft, 2 stories high.  The timber for finishing was brought by steamer from Cincinnati, Ohio.  This to accommodate the traveling public.

                Capt. Clark died of inflammation of the brain on October 25, 1839.  He left a widow and six children.  Mrs. Clark only survived her husband by one month, her death occurring November 25, 1839.

When other early first settlers arrived in the Mississippi Valley, they found a rich, abundant land, teeming with wildlife.  The river was home for beaver, muskrat, mink and other fur bearing animals.  Indians and French fur trappers “harvested” this rich bounty. 

            The valley was heavily forested, providing abundant wood for housing and firewood.  Coal and Shale could be mined from the banks of the many creeks criss-crossing the valley.

            Outside the valley were thousands of acres of Prairie, covered with tall grass and flowers.  The land was fertile and abundant, but had few trees and no Coal.  Soft Coal mining became a thriving industry in the valley.

            The other important industry in the River town was pearl buttons, cut from Mississippi River Clam Shells.  Pearl buttons from the river towns were shipped all over the world.

            Farming, Coal Mining and Pearl Buttons sustained the town for nearly a century.  The Mines closed in the 1930’s; the Pearl Buttons were not long in demand by the 1940’s.  Farming was the only surviving industry.

            Buffalo today is a quiet community with a great view of the Mississippi River.  Barge Tows are a common sight during the summer months.  Eagles swoop down on an unwary fish, and an occasional deer comes trotting along the river.  Most of the residents work to the nearby Quad Cities, or Muscatine area.

            In spirit, Buffalo is still a pioneer village.  It is Hometown, USA for us all…………

The Buffalo Historical Society was organized in August 2000, and the Museum opened in October 2003.

 Some of our aims and objectives are:

 1)      Promote interest in local History.

2)      Collect and preserve Historic articles, artifacts, and buildings.

3)      Promote preservation of public records.

4)      To preserve and beautify our Town.

 Our meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month, March through December at 6:30 pm in the Museum.

We provide many services for our community, to include beautification of our greenspace, organization and presentation of a Memorial Day service at the cemetery, annual erection of 50+ United States Flags to honor our veterans, and education and preservation of our vast history.

At our museum, you can view things such as Captain Benjamin Clark's beaver hat, clam shells with button holes punched out of them, antiiques, pictures and articles about the interesting people who have influenced Buffalo and the area, area businesses, and much more!

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Latitude: 41.457143 Longitude: -90.721847 Elevation: 567 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
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Hours Open

Sundays from 1 - 4 pm, or by appointment

Time Period Represented

1833 to present

Seasons Open

March through November, or by appointment in winter months

Visitor Fees


Accessibility Notes

The museum is easily viewed, as it is all on one floor, located in a historic building that once served as the City Hall.

Website to our Buffalo Shores Gazette

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We also have the Scott County Historic Preservation Society (SCHPS). We are basically in Davenport (but tour throughout the county and also Rock Island county, IL) and have tours of historic places, lectures w/a historic topic and instruct people on restoration of their homes. We view restoration and adaption of commercial facilities and give awards for a variety of projects. I think you would enjoy our tours, training sessions and member + friends dinners and picnics. Our meetings are the second Thursday of the month (except Jan & Aug -- too cold and too hot).

Judith Belfer, President SCHPS, 5/26/2015

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