Franklin T Oldt.

History of Dubuque County, Iowa; being a general survey of Dubuque County history, including a history of the city of Dubuque and special account of districts throughout the county, from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryFranklin T OldtHistory of Dubuque County, Iowa; being a general survey of Dubuque County history, including a history of the city of Dubuque and special account of districts throughout the county, from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 1) → online text (page 11 of 56)
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follows: First — All west of Main and south of Fifth; Second —
All east of Main and south of Eighth; Third — All east of Main
between Eighth and Seventeenth ; Fourth — All west of Main and
between Fifth and Seventeenth; Fifth — All north of Seventeenth
and Mineral streets. Propositions to light the city with gas were
received in August, 1853, from George Oelwine and others of Bos-
ton, and Barker & Spellman of Cleveland. For schools $10,000 of
the $20,000 loan was used. Temporary markets were permitted in
1853. Bee Branch was being improved. Washington Fire Com-
pany No. I presented its constitution in October, 1853, and asked
for apparatus and buildings. A mass meeting in January, 1853,
petitioned the council to buy an up-to-date fire engine and at once
proceeded to organize hook and ladder and hose companies. M.
Mobley was chairman of the citizens' fire committee. In 1853 there
was a strong element in the city which began to oppose the con-
struction of the canal along the city front; they demanded that the
work on the canal should be abandoned and the inner and other
sloughs should be filled. Their plan meant the ultimate filling of all
the sloughs and islands out to the main river channel.

Early in 1853 the corporate limits were extended as follows:
"Begmning at a point in the middle of the main channel of the
Mississippi river in the south line continued of section 31, township
89 north, range 3 east; thence west and on the south line of said
section and of sections 36 and 35 in the same township and range 2
east to the west line of said section 35 ; thence north on the west line
of sections 35, 26, 23 and 14 to the north line of section 14; thence
east on the north line of sections 13 and 14 to the range line between
ranges 2 and 3 east; thence north along the same to the north line of
section 7 of same township in range 3 east ; thence east along the
north line of said section 7 and on the same continued to the middle
of the main channel of the river, thence down said river to the

Cook, Sargent, Barney & Co. began a banking and exchange
business in April, 1853. The old banking house of W. J.
Barney & Co. was dissolved. The work of Abel Hawley and
of Captain Barney on the harbor continued to conflict, but peace
was patched up by the council. F. S. Jesup & Co. began
banking in April, 1853. Mr. Mobley was still doing a general
banking business. The famous Iowa Iron Works began operations
about this date, under Farley & Rouse. By the spring of 1853
work on the canal was not profitable to the contractors and opera-
tions languished. Dorzan, Delay & Murphy were contractors.
The four original squares given to the city were the cemetery, after-
ward Jackson park ; a ten-acre tract where the courthouse stands


and northward; one where tlie old jail stood; and one where Wash-
ington square now is. The ten-acre tract was secured in order
to be used as a donation to secure the state capital, and if that
object should fail, to be vised for any other public object. The
ground at Washington square was intended originally for a sem-
inary. It was declared in 1853 that all these squares except Wash-
ington, had been diverted from the uses originally intended. —
{Express, February 23, 1853.) In April a fire engine was ordered
from Hunnerman & Co. In 1852-3 Waple's cut afforded access of
boats to the wharf ; it was where the ice harbor now is.

"We never saw more strange faces in Dubuque than at the
present time. Applications for dwellings and business houses are
daily made, but with little success. We want more buildings in
Dubuque. Rents are high." — (Express, May 4, 1853.)

Bricks, lumber and other building materials were so scarce in the
spring of 1853 that frantic calls for more were made by citizens
and newspapers.

"Strangers — Our city is crowded at this time with strangers.
Every other man we meet on the street, nearly, is a stranger. Many
of them are seeking locations for business." — (Express, May 18,


In May, 1853, James Burt, M. McNamara and H. L. Stout, a

committee of the council appointed to investigate and report upon
the finances, issued a statement showing that for the previous year,
instead of there having been a shortage of $2,116.24, there was
really a surplus of $508.76 due to a mistake in figures. Hospital
grounds costing $625 and bonds to J. P. Farley on the dredge boat
to the amount of $2,000, wrongly charged, made this difference.
Another $2,000 on the dredge boat had been wrongly charged. It
was now figured that there was in the treasury $360.18. The har-
bor tax of 1852 realized by May, 1853, $10,999.50; city tax of
1852, $2,780.59; sale of bonds (filling up), $4,000; $10,000 city
bonds sold, $10,188.89; Bogy's ferry license, $100; wharfage, $195;
fine on B. J. O'Halloran, $100 ; tax on dogs, $120. These and other
items gave a total of $32,104.65. Among the expenses were $232.85
on the public square; lime for streets, $164.83; coffins, digging
graves, etc., $212.73 ; fencing graveyard, etc., $191.41 ; Marine hos-
pital building, $325; furnishing and attending the same, $170.26;
candles for the council, $5.43 ; city health officer, '$2y ; raising Locust
street south, $734.48; raising other streets south of First, $4,000;
work on wharf and landing, $1,626.04; sewer on Fourteenth street,
etc., $2,249.65 ; spent on Bluff street, $576.75 ; spent on Second and
Fourth streets, $900; improvements north of Tenth street, $650;
spent on Sixth street, $800; harbor bond and interest to Farley,
$2,374.70; paid A. Hawley on dredging contract, $2,750; same
dredging slough, $1,200; canal excavation, $710. Quite a large
sum was paid out for interest on tlie various loans. The total


expenses were $24,859.21, leaving on hand $7,245.44. During llie
fiscal year 1852-3 there was received in city scrip $4,938.55; and
in harbor and loan fund orders, $14,770.90. Of bonds and scrip
there was only a small amount left outstanding. Fault was found
that the merchants' licenses sliould aggregate less than $400. "The
enlarged limits of the city will yield a large increase of revenue for
the coming year at the lowest rate of levy heretofore adopted; and
your committee anticipate with pleasure the relief granted to their
fellow citizens from the harbor taxation which has been levied for
the past two years, but which has now expired," said the committee.
The citizens were congratulated on the promptness with which they
had paid their harbor tax, there being delinquent at the close of the
year $16,885, and $186.51 paid by the citv at tax sales. — {Express,
May 18, 1853.)

The city printing went from the Express to the Herald in May,
1853. All of the positions except two in the surveyor general's
ofifice went to the Democrats as a result of the change in the
national administration in the spring of 1853. Captain E. Vanmeter
and Andrew Keesecker became connected with the Express in Tune,
1853. The city vote on the question of borrowing $20,000 was
III for the loan and 55 against it. In June, 1853, Dubuque suc-
ceeded in securing the postoffice distributing station from Galena,
to the intense regret of the latter and the joy of the former. There
were several.

"Never did the general appearance of things in our midst indi-
cate so much life, buoyancy and prosperity in every description of
business. New houses are going up in all parts of the city on
ground hitherto unoccupied and old buildings (and often good ones)
are tearing down to make room for more substantial and magnifi-
cent edifices. Our hotels are thronged with strangers and the tide
of immigration, though the season is far advanced, is still unchecked.
Business of all kinds is stirred with astonishing activity. These
things are apparent to every eye. The natural advantages of
Dubuque are rapidly developing under the thoroughgoing enter-
prise of her people. These things let us know that a brilliant future
for Dubuque is no longer hypothetical." — (Express, June 29, 1853.)

"No period within the history of Dubuque has presented a greater
amount and variety of improvements than the present. Buildings
are going up or being torn down in all directions. One year ago
we predicted 20,000 population in the space of five years. We
were then laughed at. One thing is settled, Dubuque is to be the
great central business focus of the Northwest." — {Express August
3, 1853.)

In Augiist, 1853, the river was at the lowest stage and two
dredge boats were at work on the harbor. In August, 1853, Patrick
Quigley, recei\'er, took from this land office to St. Louis by the
steamer Lamartine $260,000 in specie ; this sum had been received



at Dubuque, Iowa City, Fort Des Moines and Chariton. The new
fire engine was expected in September, 1853, and steps to organize
companies were tai<en, but many asked, "Why organize when we
have no water?" It was argued that the reservoirs along Main
street were amply sufficient, but they were private property.

In August, 1853, Jesup & Co. agreed to take the entire issue of
$20,000 city bonds, providing the city would give them a mortgage
on the islands opposite the city as security. They agreed on the
same conditions to take the former issue of $10,000 in bonds. All
of tiiis was agreed to by the city council. Barker & Spellman were
awarded the gas contract in August for a term of twenty-five years.
J. A. Linnell wrote good poetry for the newspapers in 1853. The
Du!)uque savings bank was opened by Jesup & Co. in 1853. The
large store of Waples & Co. in McClure's building at Main and
Seventh streets was burned in September, 1853; the total loss was
about $20,000; Waples' net loss was $9,500. Cherry Hill was the
name given in 1853 to the new cemetery. The contract for gas with
Barker & Spellman provided that the cost to the city should not
exceed $2.50 nor to individuals should not exceed $3.50 per thou-
sand feet. The organization became known as the Key City Gas
Company. Their charter has been continued from time to time
down to the present date. In September, 1853, a large bar had
formed in tiie main river and was a great hindrance to navigation.

In 1853 there was much conflict between the upper and lower
sections of the city over council favors ; neither receivetl an improve-
ment that was not begrudged by the other. "If one got a plum the
other must have two." Late in 1853 the location of the depot of
the Dubuque & Pacitic railway became a bone of contention between
the two or three sections and caused much ill will and vexation.
Late in 1853 the demand to change harbor plans became too strong
to be hushed or ignored. "l-"il! up, fill up!" was the cry. The
Herald favored filling the sloughs ; so did General Jones. Orig-
inally, and but a short time before, the citizens had voted almost
unanimously in favor of the canal plan.

"Two short years ago the almost unanimous vote of the citizens
of Dubuque was in favor of tlie present harbor improvement that is
now denounced. Much time and labor was expended in adopting
the present projected improvement which is now condemned by
persons who have never taken the trouble of examining the subject
for themselves. Thus too it was with the Dul)uque and Keokuk
railroad ; thus it was with the Big Sioux railroad : thus it is with
the Dubu(jue and Pacific railroad, and thus it is with all our steam-
boat projects; they excite us for the time by their novelty, but that
over they are consigned to oblivion. Dubuquers, hear me ! Such a
vacillating course never attained an extraordinary advantage, nor
never will. Question: Has anyone any idea of wliat it would cost
to fill up the sloughs and islands abo\'e higli water mark to the main


river along the whole front of the city?" — (A Tax Payer, in
Express, February 14, 1854.)

In January, 1854, there were two dailies — Herald and Miners'
Exj^ress; one tri-weekly, the Herald; four weeklies, Tribune
(Whig), lozva State Democrat, Miners' Express, North West
Detnokrat (in German) ; two monthlies, School Journal and Legal
Inquisitor. There was demanded here early in 1854 — better harbor
work; improvement of city finances; more wholesale houses; better
fire protection; improvement of the mail service; better market
places ; a new jail ; better sanitation ; better men in office, and more
dwellings and business houses. The proposition of giving Brush
island to the Dubuque and Pacific Railway Company as a site for
their depot was considered early in 1854 and submitted to the voters
with the following result: For the grant, 666; against the grant,
285. The Third and Fifth wards voted against it. This vote was
understood to indicate that the sloughs and islands were in time to
be filled up. The Herald favored the grant and the Express opposed
it. Companies to fill up the sloughs were projected early in 1854.
One causeway was planned to extend along the south side of
Waples' cut (now the ice harbor). Its cost was estimated at

"In whatever part of the city you visit you will discover the
preparations for extensive building this spring and summer. We
understand that contracts for the erection of some twenty new
business houses on Main street are already let. There never has
been a spring within the history of Dubuque when such an activity
prevailed in the building line." — (Express, March 11, 1854.)

"All know our city has sufifered greatly for the last fifteen years,
in her business and reputation, at home and abroad, in consequence
of the extreme difficulty of getting to and from the river in low
water. Strangers destined for Dubuque (ladies not infrequently)
have been landed from steamboats at niglit upon the outer island
and were compelled to grope their way by land and slough to the
city, benumbed and saturated with rain. Our own merchants, busi-
ness men and hotel keepers can attest the hardships they have been
subjected to, in getting to and from the river a great portion of the
year." — (John King, in Express, March 14, 1854.)

"From present unmistakable indications Dubuque in 1855 will be
a city of ten if not twelve thousand inhabitants. Scarcely a day goes
by that it does not bring new acquisitions to the city. The streets
are crowded with strangers, new signs are going up in every direc-
tion and strangers daily inquire in vain for dwellings and business
houses. Business men predict that three times the number of build-
ings will go up this season than have ever gone up in any one season
before." — (Ex'press, March 14, 1854.)

"A perfect army of emigrants passed up Main street about one


o'clock in regular military order with rifles on their shoulders." —
{Express, March 15, 1854.)

"Visitors and emigrants are flocking to the city by scores. Never
before was this citv so crowded with strangers." — {Express, March
28, 1854.)

An immense meeting of the citizens to consider the propriety and
utility of building one or more causeways from the main land to the
river was held early in 1854 and resolutions favoring that project
were passed and referred to the city council. Before this date a bill
in Congress relincjuished to the city the old cemetery at the "north
end of Main street" (Jackson Park). Rev. Henry Clay Dean lec-
tured on "Temperance" at Globe hall in February, 1854. The
Express had opposed his views and was caustically criticised by Mr.
Dean. In February, 1854, the first number of the Dubuque
Observer was issued by C. J. Chapline & Co. It was a W'hig sheet
and from the start savagely assailed the Catholic church. In
February, 1854, the Express claimed 7,000 population for Dubuque.
The city was growing beyond all expectations and to the delight
and astonishment of the older residents. The outlook was bright in
the extreme. Within one year real estate had doubled and tripled
and rents had gone up correspondingly and were soaring to still
higher altitudes. There was great demand for a steamboat landing
where boats could come to the main land at the lowest stages of

In March, 1854, W. A. Adams succeeded A. P. Wood as pro-
prietor of the Tribune. The long expected new fire engine arrived
April 3, 1854. and the same day the Washington Company appeared
in uniform and gave it a trial. The Baubiens were patrons of the
turf, ran daily stages westward and had a large livery stable and a
number of fast horses, among them being the famous "John," a
trotter with time of about 2 :40. J. B. Dorr was with the Herald in
1854. The newly submerged insulated gutta percha telegraph wire
or cable was in operation in March, 1854: Air. Linnell, operator.
At this time two rooms in the market house were fitted up for the
new fire engine. In April, 1854, there were four daily newspapers
— Express, Herald, Tribune and Observer. At this time the hotels
were turning away hundreds of guests — were filled to overflowing;
citizens proposed to erect a new and gigantic hotel. The rent of
Waples' storeroom at Main and Fifth was fixed at $1,200, an un-
heard of price here. The total receipts of the city for the fiscal year
1853-4 were $38,952.96 and the total expenses, $41,415. The
Lorimier hollow improvement alone cost $7,000. The city council
occupied Globe hall at an annual rental of $175.

The Philharmonic Society was organized in May, 1854, the object
being "to cultivate a knowledge of music." It was noted May 30,
1854, by the Express that in six squares on Main street alone
twenty-two l)uildings were in progress of erection. In May, 1854,


Mr. Anderson, who had just taken the census of the city, reported
a population of 6,715 of actual residents and between 600 and 700

"Advance in Property.— One year ago last January the Waples'
House was bought for $12,500. Recently the Messrs. Gages, pro-
prietors of the Tremont House, Chicago, offered $25,000 for it, all
cash up. The offer was refused and the property was held at
$35,000. This is a sufficient commentary upon the growth and
prosperity of Dubuque." — {Express, May 23, 1854.)

Two-thirds of the citizens petitioned the council to pave Main
street from First to Eighth streets, the citizens and the city each to
bear one-half of the expense. Lots here were valued at $100 a front
foot. The new fire engine proved to be poor and unsatisfactory ; the
company in disgust disbanded.

In lieu of the old plan of a long canal, the causeway plan
proposed to build a plank road bed supported on piles at an elevation
above that stage of water affording free ingress and egress to boats
of the largest class, of not less width than Main street and with a
landing 300 feet long and about 150 feet wide sloping toward the
water. Two causeways were planned — one just south of Waples'
cut and one just north of Barney's cut, both to extend out to the
main river channel, the two cuts and the canal to remain open. The
gas company announced that as soon as they received 200 steady
customers they would begin to supply gas. In August, 1854, the
council planned to buy the Plank road, providing the company
would accept city bonds in payment. F. E. Bissell was sent to
Milwaukee to settle with Abel Hawley. The latter gave up the
dredge boat and $1,000 to be released. In September, 1854, the
council voted four to three in favor of submitting to the voters the
question of a $50,000 loan to be used in building causeways to the

The Dubuque Gas Light and Coke Company was incorporated in
September, 1854, with a capital of $150,000. On September 28,
1854, a public meeting to organize a board of trade was held at
Globe hall. The meeting was adjourned and at the second meeting
few were present and not a miller. Later the organization was
effected with F. V. Goodrich, president; Edwin James, Jr., secre-
tary, and M. Mobley, treasurer. Early in October, 1854, a Mrs.
Jones delivered to the ladies of Dubuque a course of lectures on
anatomy and physiology. The big cistern for the gasometer was
down fifteen feet by the middle of October, 1854. "Verily, this is
an age of progress — Dubuque and gaslight," said the Observer.
The attempt in October to form a temperance league did not receive
much encouragement.

The Methodist conference was held in this city in October, 1854.
Rev. Henry Clay Dean was present and delivered from the pulpit
an address attacking in severe terms Knownothingism, which


address was caustically commented upon by llie Obscnrr. His
utterances concerning Catholicism particularly unbottled the wrath,
criticism and denunciation of that paper.

"We learn that the cholera is prevailing at Dubuque to such an
extent that many people have left the city in consequence thereof."
■ — St. Paul Express. "There have been a few cases of cholera in
Dubuque, confined principally to the floating population, and some
few have died. To our knowledge there has been no panic or
excitement whatever in regard to it, and we have not heard of any
of our citizens flying from it." — -{Observer, August l8, 1854.)

In October, 1854, J. B. Dorr withdrew from the Herald; where-
upon that sheet and the Miners' Express united under the name
Express and Herald.

"The Daily Miners' Express is dead, buried and resurrected — its
death was sudden, decomposition rapid and fusion with neutral
elements instantaneous. Out of this fused union of apparently
incongruous elements springs into the glorious life and liberty of
democratic existence a journal to be entitled the Express and
Herald, to be enlarged and issued from the Herald office. Who
fathers this new production, or who will nurse its infancy and
guide it to manhood doth not yet appear. The union is wonderful
— chemical synthesis is at fault for Merritt and Mahony are one."
— (Said the Observer, October 27, 1854.)

During 1854 Main street was macadamized and guttered, its
pavements were improved and sheds and awnings in front were
done away with. "When all are remo\-ed, the streets lighted with
gas and the many splendid blocks of buildings now in process of
erection are completed, Dubuquers may well be proud of the main
street of their growing city." — {Observer, November 3, 1854.)

"Among the few things yet necessary to make Dubuque a city
of conveniences may be enumerated water works, gaslight, a few
more hundreds of dwellings, harbor improvements completed,
reliable connection with the railroad at Galena and a line of steam-
boats to secure the Minnesota trade." The board of trade promised
to accomplish these improvements.

In September, 1854, there was paid at one time for improve-
ments on the Lorimier hollow road the sum of $14,375.56. The
estimated cost of the lower causeway was $39,353. In November,
18 S4, the citv secured a deed to that portion of the Plank road
within the city limits. By November, 1854, several four-story
brick buildings were standing on Main or cross streets. It was in
1854, at the time the board of trade was organized, that herculean
efforts to extend the wholesale trade were made with much success.
Dr. Thomas was connected with the Dubuque Observer, which was
the enemy of Catholicism and an advocate of Knownothingism.
At this time a wave against Catholicism swept the whole country;
in fact, Knownothingism was a manifestation of this wave. A


typographical union was organized in November, 1854, with
Andrew Keesecker president. Money was very tight at this time.
The Female Benevolent Society, a Protestant organization, did
much good during the winter of 1854-5. City water works were
demanded in November, 1854, to take the place of the water ped-
dlers. On November 21 the first gas pipes were laid on Main
street. The Dubuque Teachers" Institute opened December 10.
Robert C. Waples founded Key West in 1854.

In December, 1854, Merritt, Mahony and Dorr were publishers
and proprietors of the Express and Herald. In December, 1854,
there was not a pork packing house in the city. Why not ? was
asked by the press.

During the year 1854 the tonnage of imports to Dubucpie
amounted to 97,633, the largest items being, square timber, 40,580 ;
pine lumber and shingles, 14,972: cordwood, 11,400; groceries,
9,052; emigrants' fixtures, 7,320; dry goods, 5,226; iron, steel and
nails, 3,600. The total value was $4,933,208. The tonnage of
exports from Dubuque amounted to 1 1 ,736, the principal items
being, lead, 4,385; iron, steel and nails, 1,200; groceries, 780; flour,

Online LibraryFranklin T OldtHistory of Dubuque County, Iowa; being a general survey of Dubuque County history, including a history of the city of Dubuque and special account of districts throughout the county, from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 1) → online text (page 11 of 56)