Boxcar City aka Holy City, Bettendorf, IA
Train boxcars were home to the Mexicans who came, some with sponsors, some without, who lived in boxcars on what would be floodplain in Bettendorf, Scott, IA. There was more than one family to a boxcar and they had numeric addresses. Here is some history.
BOXCARS WILL HOUSE PEOPLE OF HOLY CITY
Davenport Democrat & Leader 9 October 1939
Community Chest secures them from Rock Island Lines
The problem of housing 16 Mexican families, who are being evicted from the "Holy City" district near the Bettendorf plant [railroad car chassis and wheels], because the ground on which their shacks stood, has been sold to the Standard Oil Co by the Bettendorf Co.
The problem has been solved for another 18 mos. The company had agreed to permit the Mexicans to live rent-free for 18 mos. with the understanding that it must be vacated at the end of the period to make way for further industrial developments.
Boxcars have been secured from the Rock Island railroad through efforts of the Davenport Community Chest and the Catholic Charities, the latter a Chest agency, and they will be placed on a tract between the present 'Holy City' area and the Bettendorf foundry building which also fronts on the river.
The boxcars are scheduled to arrive here the latter part of this week. They should be ready for residences within 2 weeks. The Standard Oil Co. will then start wrecking the old "Holy City" shacks to make way for an oil storage terminal on the river front.
J. M. HUTCHINSON, president of Davenport Community Chest and Ben COMENITZ, a former president, made a trip to Chicago and interviewed Rock Island Lines officials to secure the boxcars. There were no boxcars available in this area, and officials were reluctant to bring any in from elsewhere, but finally agreed when the nature of the situation was explained.
The Community Chest will advance $1,500 to finance the purchase and this will be repaid by the Mexicans during the next 12 mos. The Bettendorf Co. has agreed to furnish employment for at least one member of each family and to aid in collections for the Catholic Charities through whom the loan will be made.
A fund of $550 was raised by the Mexican families for a down payment and was turned over to Catholic Charities some time ago. It is hoped that a permanent tract will be found in the next 18 mos. and that the boxcars may be moved there or the material in them used as the nucleus for low-cost homes.
An investigation disclosed that homes could be built by William J. VALE for the evicted families would be too expensive to fall within the budget available.
There are 2 families on relief and they will be cared for by the county. Their rent payments will be charged as rent. The county disclaimed any responsibility for the housing of families that were not on relief.
The Jose and Petra Saldivar family, 3 girls from Petra's previous marriage to Mr. Rodrigues in Zacatecas, MX; Marian, Juanita, and Francisa, and children: Magarito, Lazaro, Theodora, Catarino [renamed, no date, from school to Victor Joseph "Nino" who was the youngest]. They lived in boxcar 6 with another family.