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 13 of 56)
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24, 1855.) The banking house of W. J. Barney & Co. and F. S.
Jesup & Co. refused to join the movement. They were criticised
sharply by the press.

The postoffice in 1855 was only eighteen or nineteen feet wide
and at the rush hours people had to wait in line to get their mail,
so great had become the business of the office. This room had been
occupied in the spring of 1855 and was on Sixth street on what was
called the "public square." Numerous sites were discussed at this
time — land owned by General Jones, L. Molony's lot, Jesup & Co.'s,
the new concert hall in the proposed new city hall at Sixth and
Locust streets, and elsewhere.

On December 3, 1855, the following prices prevailed in Dubuque :
Timothy hay, $20 per ton; prairie hay, $15 to $18; wheat, $1 to
$1.09 winter and 90 to 95 cents spring; corn, 40 to 45 cents; oats,
45 cents; barley, $1.12; pork, $4.50 to $5; beef, 7 to 9 cents;
mutton, 7 to 9 cents; venison, 8 to 11 cents; butter, 18 to 20 cents;
potatoes, 50 to 55 cents; hides, green, 5 cents, dried, 11 cents; flour,
$8 per bbl. "Never before in the history of Dubuque have farmers


received at this season of the year 40 to 50 cents for corn and oats."
— {Express and Herald, December 3, 1855.)

"The business in Dubuque seems scarcely to have diminished
until the present week since the close of navigation, either in the
busy market, the warehouses on the levee, at our wliolesale and
retail stores, or in the produce buying in the streets. The past
season has been one of unexampled prosperity for our city." —
(Express and Herald. January 8, 1856.)

Several strong organizations for poor relief were in operation in
January, 1856. On January 9 it was 26 degrees below zero here.
From July 4, 1855, to January i, 1856, 5,200 persons registered at
the Peaslee House ; others showed immense registries. F. D.
Henning & Co., of Pittsburg, opened a banking house in January,
1856; other bankers were Mobley, Dubuque Savings, F. S. Jesup
& Co., W. J. Barney & Co., Dexter & Ripley, tlie Langworthys and

The old calaboose was removed in 1856 and tlie lot on whicli it
stood was leased for building purposes. It was dark, low and damp
and the terror of topers wlio were put tliere to "cool off." In
February, 1856, the cellar and first floor of the store occupied by
Coates & Wilde were leased for $1,600 per annum. This was about
the highest rent thus far charged. In February, 1856, there came
here in one wagon load tiiirty-two deer, brought from Bremer
county by a Mr. Fogle.

On February 4, 1856. the firemen held a grand parade and ball,
on which occasion Washington No. i and Protection No. 2, both
new engines, were exhibited and greatly admired by the citizens.
The engines were decorated with banners and festoons of artificial

J. P. Farley and others petitioned to have the old cemetery con-
verted into a public park. New market grounds were secured in
January, 1856, at Iowa and Clay streets — the present city hall now
stands on these lots. On January 15 a water works ordinance
passed the council. In March the islands were ordered surveyed
and platted. In April, 1856, the Harbor Improvement Company
asked permission to extend Fifth street to the river. Many ware-
houses were going up along the levee and along Seventh and Jones
streets. In February, 1856, a $1,000 share in the Harbor Improve-
ment Company was sold to a Pittsburg gentleman for $2,000. Over
a dozen new wholesale houses were established here during the last
half of 1855. In 1856 judgment for $1,000 was obtained
Abel Hawley, at Milwaukee. Eighth street extended was the
northern boundary of the Harbor Improvement Company's tract.
Fire limits were established in February, 1856. Main street wa=
continued south to Jones street. The $100,000 for city improve-
ments was obtained from W. W. Corcoran, the famous philan-
thrn])ist of Washington, D. C. In March, 1856, the Dubuque


Library Association had sixty members and 200 volumes ; the mem-
bership fee was $5. On March 13 all persons having friends
buried in the old cemetery were requested to remove them to the
new cemetery. J. Bittman was connected with the Stoats Zeitung
in 1856.

"Never before in the history of Dubuque did the preparations for
building commence so early in the season as appears to be the case
now. No city of the Mississippi valley should be allowed to surpass
her in the beauty, style, commodiousness and convenience of her
buildings." — (Express and Herald, March 6, 1856.)

It was in 1856 and 1857 that Dubuque dealers awoke to the
importance of the wholesale business here. Jobbers here for almost
the first time agreed to duplicate St. Louis or Chicago bills.

Herron Brothers, of Pittsburg, opened a banking house here in
March, 1856 — on Main, between Third and Fourth. The Varieties
theater in Lorimier hall presented Othello, Damon and Pythias,
Black Eyed Susan, Ingomar, Virginius, School for Scandal, Romeo
and Juliet, Iron Chest, Richard III., The Wife, Lucretia Borgia,
Rob Roy. Irish Lion and Uncle Tom's Cabin early in 1856. Among
the performers were W. S. Forrest, manager ; H. Van Liew, lessee ;
H. Gossen, G. W. Johnson, Mrs. Powell, .Miss Laura Bentley and
Miss Azlene Allen. Theatres exhibited also at Globe hall. Mr. Bell
packed about 700 hogs in 1855-6. At this time (spring of 1856)
the following companies were conspicuous here : Harbor Improve-
ment, Harbor, Dubuque & Pacific railway, Dubuque & Western
railway, Dubuque & Minnesota Packet, Minnesota Packet, Water
Works, Dry Dock, Tunnel. A fire alarm bell was demanded at
this time. It was noted that in April, 1856, there were forty-one
wholesalers here. From first to last such houses have constituted
the backbone of Dubuque's business and prosperity. In the spring
of 1856 the first three vessels upward bound brought 1,000 pas-
sengers. The upper country was growing enorrrtously and there-
fore the great success of wholesaling here. Along Main street
cisterns holding 1,000 barrels each were built for fire protection.
A private house was converted into a calaboose in April, 1856. J.
C. Jennings was resident government agent in charge of harbor
improvement in 1856. It was necessary to open a smallpox hos-
pital in April. Temporary fire engine houses were erected on the
public square. On May 11, 1856, for the first time in Iowa, a
newspaper was printed, dated and issued on Sunday. North's
great circus was here in 1856; Colonel Wood's museum also;
Professor Fowler, phrenologist, also; Ole Bull, violinist, and
Adelina Patti, prima donna, also. The latter sang at the Congrega-
tional church to an immense audience.

"Pure Water. — One of the things to which we wish to call the
attention of the city fathers is the fact that most of the water which
is supplied by the water carriers of Dubuque to their customers is


obtained along the inner levee and at other most improper places." —
(Express and Herald, May 31, 1856.)

In 1854 a water company was chartered by the legislature, but
nothing further occurred at that time. The gas pipe on Main street
was re-laid in 1856. A big public schoolhouse in the Third ward,
with a capacity for 600 children, was ready in September, 1856.

The shot tower of George W. Rogers & Co. stood on an extension
of Seventh street. The cost of the tower by November, 1856,
was $7,000; total cost would be about $10,000. The total height
was about 150 feet — no feet of stone and 42 of brick. The
measurement at the base was 18 feet 10 inches — walls three feet
thick at base and twenty inches at top of the stone work. There
were nine stories in the tower. When completed its daily capacity
was from six to eight tons of shot.

Among the Masons of Dubuque in September, 1856, were the
following: Dubuque Council of Royal and Select Masters: Charles
T. Gilliam, R. Spaulding, A. D. Anderson, C. H. Booth, A. Levi,
G. W. Cummins, M. Hooper. Dubuque Roval Arch Chapter: A.
Biles, J. T. Everett, H. Rouse, J. H. Lull, B. R. Watson, W. P
Allen, C. H. Booth, W. W. Woolsey, A. D. Anderson, A. H. Dillon,
A. Harr and Wm. Hooper. Charles Gilliam was W. M. of Dubuque
Lodge, No. 3, and T. S. Nairn was W. M. of Metropolitan Lodge,
No. 9.

In the fall of 1856 gas lighting was extended to the leading side
streets. The bluffs back of the city began to be covered with resi-
dences. Crowds of strangers thronged the city in the fall of 1856.
The first two public cisterns were built at First and Second streets
in September, 1856. Taylor Richards and Burden were bankers
at Fifth and Main. The city was filled with law-breakers and
robbers at this date. So bad was the money situation here late in
1856 that mass meetings of business men endeavored to devise
means to improve the situation. In one meeting the merchants
agreed to take at par the post notes issued by the Dubuque Harbor
Company and expressed confidence in the post notes of the Dubuque
& Western railway. At another meeting attended by Burt, Lewis,
Wilson, Mills, Waples, Dorr, Stimson, Hackley and Bancroft reso-
lutions of confidence in these post notes were voted down 116 to
103. This meeting demanded that the members of the companies
should file a paper legally binding tiiemsches as individuals to
redeem the notes.

In October, 1856, the Express and Herald people installed their
steam press and connected with it was a book-bindery.

The New England Society was a strong organization in 1856.
The Sons of New York was another. The A'ortlncest. a newspaper,
was issued here in 1856 by H. D. LaCassitt.

J. F. Jesup, at his death in 1856, made the following bequest
among others : "All the residue of my estate I gi\e in trust to


Morris R. Jesup, Piatt Smith and Louis Boisot, to be used by them
for tlie benefit of the poor of the city of Dubuque." — (Express and
Herald, November 12, 1856.) Immense quantities of slaughtered
hogs were marketed here in November, 1856. The Northwestern
Stage Company put on extra coaches for the trip to St. Paul from
Dubuque during the winter of 1856-7.

Late in 1856 Dubuque was infested with gangs of thieves, which
fact caused the cit}' authorities to double their efforts to catch and
punish tliem. Morehiser was captain of police at this time. In
1856 (December) Judge Corkery was postmaster with office on
Eighth street in the Odd Fellows building.

The Express and Herald of February 4, 1857, said : "Twelve
years ago (1844) Dubuque was what we may call a small village,
remarkable for nothing more than its being in the lead mining
region. It had then, if our recollection be correct, about 700 inhab-
itants all told. There was not a single street of what is now the city
of Dubuque graded. There were but two brick houses, most of the
rest of the buildings being frame shanties. A few stores were suf-
ficient to supply Dubuque and all the country for six miles around in
Iowa with all the commodities of household, mechanical and agricul-
tural use. Main street lots that would now sell for $400 a front
foot could be purchased then for from $100 to $200 for a 64- foot
lot. Lands in the vicinity of the city that now sell for $1,000 an
acre, could then be taken up as claims and bought from the govern-
ment at $1.25 per acre. The hotels then were the Jefferson, the
Washington and the Western, three frame buildings, not a vestige
of which remains we believe to awaken in the minds of the old
settlers reminiscences of the early days of Dubuque. General Har-
rison and Tim Fanning were then the principal caterers. Look at
Dubuque now and judge whether she does not give warrant for
future greatness which we anticipate she will ere long attain."

"A Cold Snap. — Sunday was the coldest day of the season.
Before sunrise the thermometer marked 2>7 degrees below zero, at
8 o'clock 28 degrees below, and at noon 10 degrees below." —
{Express and Herald, January 21, 1857.)

"It is almost incredible to what a degree real estate has appre-
ciated in this city within a twelve-month past. Take the Miller
farm near town. A year or two ago it sold for $130 an acre. Now
it is rated at $1,000 an acre. A short time ago Mr. Sanford bought
two lots corner of Seventh and Iowa streets for $30,000. The same
lots were offered a year ago for $6,000 and could not find a pur-
chaser at that price. It is within bounds to say that all the real
estate within the city limits of Dubuque has doubled in value within
a year. Some portions, we admit, have not risen at all apparently,
while in other localities they have appreciated a thousand per cent."
— (Express and Herald, January 28, 1857.)

"We own to having become considerably indignant at the course


pursued by our city banks in relation to paper money. They bring
bank notes here for circulation by the hundred thousand and after
paying them out to the community for good money, they refuse to
take them back the next day unless perhaps at a discount." —
{Express and Herald, January 28, 1857.)

The Central Improvement Company was organized January 23,
1857, with a capital of $2,100,000. It became the owner of two
islands with an aggregate of twenty-eight acres and with enough
shallows to make a total of sixty acres when filled in. Its boun-
daries extended from the line of the Harbor Company on the south
to the line of the Harbor Improvement Company on the north. Its
design was to make a levee the whole extent, to fill all tlie interven-
ing lands and sloughs and to run First. Second, Third and Fourth
streets to the Mississippi. The corporators were Jesse P. Farley,
Franklin V. Goodrich, Austin J. Goss, Robert C. Waples, Chris-
topher Pelan, Robert M. Walmsley, Alexander Anderson and Fred-
erick E. Bissell. The company began swift operations.

Early in Januaiy, 1857, the bankers of Dubuque gave public
notice that they would not guarantee tlie currency paid out by them
beyond the day in which it should be paid out. In this extremity
the press cautioned people to insist on specie in all their money

In January, 1857. tiie Central Improvement Company was organ-
ized; they secured a large tract in front of the city between the
grants to the Harbor and the Harbor Improvement companies. In
February, 1857, Redman & Keim, bankers, succeeded T. S. Jesup
& Co. and became associated with W. Y. Lovell under the name of
Redman, Lovell & Co. In February Gen. John Hodgdon assumed
editorial charge of the Northivest during the temporary absence of
M. B. Mulkern, editor. In April Mulkern retired from the paper.
The new constitution of Iowa was published in full here in March,
1857. The establishment of the Republican here in 1857, by A. P.
Wood in June, 1857, gave the city its fourth daily. Thomas F.
Meagher, Irish patriot and orator, lectured here in June on "Royalty
and Republicanism"; he had been banished to Van Dieman's Land,
but escaped and came to America; lie lectured also on "Life and
Times of Daniel O'Connell," at the Julicn theater. The firemen
paraded in June — Washington, No. i, had fifty-four men in line;
Protection, No. 2. thirty- four men; Mechanic, No. 3, forty men;
they gave an exiiibition of water throwing. The new Lorimier
House at Blufi:' and Eighth streets was erected in 1857 at a total
cost of about $90,000.

In 1857 Dubuque & Pacific stock was worth 90 cents on the
dollar; Dubuque & Western, 85 cents; Dubuque Gas Light & Coke,
75 cents; Dubuque Union Insurance, $1.15; Dulniquc General Im-
provement Company, 10 cents: Dubuque Harbor Company, 7^
cents ; Dubuque Harbor & Improvement Company, 2 cents.


"Life and Business. — What a stir was on the streets yesterday.
On Main, for the major part, as far as the eye could reach, up and
down, a living mass of beings were jostling each other — men,
women, children, horses, wagons and drays — all one gay, happy,
moving panorama of city life. It did one's heart good to witness
it." — (Express and Herald, March 18, 1857.)

"It is astonishing with what rapidity frame tenements and build-
ings of diflferent character are going up. We remarked a week ago
or more that the season had commenced, but we did not dream of
anything like the magical springing up of structures that the past
few days have brought forth." — (Express and Herald, March 18,


On June 3, 1857, the money market here was very tight ; higli
rates for loans were demanded. All bills were rigidly scrutinized.

"Yesterday B. P. Power & Co. shipped to Dyersville seven boxes
of merchandise, four of them weighing 1,220 pounds; twenty- four
plows, I hogshead of sugar and thirteen large packages of groceries.
This firm made the first shipment over the road. They have shipped
to St. Louis during the past week over 2,000 bushels of wheat." —
(Express and Herald, May 20, 1857.)

The Dubuque Times was started here in the spring of 1857 with
Jesse Clement editor, and in politics was Republican. "An unusual
stringency pervades our money market and business, generally
speaking, is extremely dull." — (Express and Herald, July 28, 1857.)

"As early as August, 1857, a horse railroad to be extended from
Dubuque through Couler valley was projected and considered. It
was proposed by W. R. Hopkins, who argued from experience that
one should be built." — (Times, August 27, 1857.)

The Secretary of the Treasury, in March, 1857, gave the contract
for the new custom house and post office in this city to John Bostater
and Jacob Fonts for $87,334.50, the lowest bid.

The Dubuque Times was first issued June 15, 1857, by a corpora-
tion composed of twenty-four prominent Republicans. J. P. Farley
was president ; D. N. Cooley, secretary ; M. Mobley. treasurer, and
George G. Lyon, editor. The object was to establish here a perma-
nent Republican organ and job office.

Work on the new jail was in progress in May, 1857. Kerosene
oil explosions began to occur too frequently in 1857.

On February 10, 1857, the new Odd Fellows building at Eightli
and Bluff streets collapsed, the roof falling in and part of the wall
falling out, crushing Capt. S. C. Foss and his wife to death in their
home adjacent. There were many narrow escapes. The post office
was buried in the ruins. Captain Foss was an old soldier of the
War of 1812, and was one of the famous Dartmouth prisoners. —
(Express and Herald, February 11, 1857.)

In August, 1857, Dubuque had six daily newspapers — fi\c in


English and one in German, as follows : Times, Tribune, Express
and Herald, Republican, Northzvest and Democrat.

In August, 1857, there were nine large w-arehouses in course of
construction on the levee.

A rumor against the M. Mobley bank caused a heavy run there by
depositors on September 1 1, 1857, by the German and Irish popula-
tion which held his certificates of deposit. Observing this run a
notice was promptly issued by forty of the best business concerns
and wealthiest citizens of the city pledging themselves to sustain
"his entire ability to redeem any promise or other pecuniary lia-
bility at call." The men thus voluntarily backing Mr. Mobley were
worth nearly $4,000,000. In August, 1857, the assessor's list
showed over 240 concerns and persons here assessed over $10,000
each. Among the wealthiest citizens were the following: J. D.
Bush, $67,940; Richard Cox, $90,480; Jesse P. Farley, $72,200;
M. Ham, $92,657; J. L. Langworthy, $126,090; E. Langworthy,
$170,060; S. M. Langworthy, $74,725; P. A. Lorimier, $65,875;
L. H. Langworthy, $90,475; A. McDaniel, $62,600; J. Ogleby,
$63,025; William Rebman, $128,150; H. W. Sanford, $93,200.
The wealthiest concern was the Dubuque Harbor Company, which
was assessed at $330,000. The total footing of all assessable city
property for 1857 was $10,645,663. — (Express and Herald, August
12, 1857.)

The Tribune alone of the newspapers here opposed the issue of
post notes by the Harbor Company. It demanded that such notes
should draw interest and declared that their issue was a violation of
state law. The post notes of the Harbor Company began to make
their appearance about November 18, 1857. They were in bills of
$5 and $10 and were beautifully engraved in New York. Although
the Express and Herald was "unalterably opposed to banking in all
its forms," yet it favored the issue of the post notes by the Dubuque
Harbor Company. It did so because it believed they were perfectly
good and would relieve the situation here and did so as a "temporary

Every banker in Dubuque except the house of J. L. Langworthy
& Bros, agreed to take and use the notes of the Harbor Company,
and they did not probably because they were interested in the
Harbor Improvement Company and not in the Harbor Companv.
The Tribune opposed the post notes of the Harbor Company, but
not those of the Harbor Improvement Company, or the Central
Island Company. Much of all this maneuvering was due to personal
interests. "In the money market we have nothing new to report
excepting the presence of the long expected notes of the Harbor
Company, which made their first appearance some days since and
are very readily taken by a greater portion of our merchants, bank-
ers and Ijusiness men," said tlie Express and Herald, November iS,


1857. The notes of the Harbor Company were redeemable in specie
one year from date.

At a meeting of the friends of the Harbor Company's post note
issues held late in November, 1857, there were strong delegations
from both "Dublin" and "Germany." Over 100 of the best mer-
chants and business men agreed to take the notes at par. There
were present at this meeting George W. Jones, Warner Lewis,
Robert M. Walmsley, E. S. Norris, M. Mobley, J. B. Dorr, R. C.
Waples and J. H. Emerson. The following resolution was passed :
"That we do most earnestly request the Dubuque Harbor Company
to continue the issue of their post notes." Mr. Emerson, a member
of the company, explained that the company did not want to issue
the notes but had reluctantly consented to do so upon the earnest
solicitation of many of the business men, and even then only on the
ground that it might be a measure of relief to the community and
not of profit to the company. — (Express and Herald, November 25,
1857.) There came at once from many places in northern Iowa
demands or requests for the post notes.

M. Mobley's bank suspended and closed its doors early in De-
cember, 1857. He issued a card in which he stated that his assets
to the amount of over $100,000 over all liabilities would be turned
over to his creditors if they so desired. He would keep back noth-
ing except enough to feed and clothe Iiis family. He said that all
creditors would be paid in full. This failure caused great excite-
ment here, coming as it did upon a money market already greatly
depressed. "The past week has been one of unusual severity, in a
financial point of view, causing a deep indigo tinge to pervade all
business circles," said the Express and Herald of December 9.

The Musical Association of Dubuque gave a brilliant entertain-
ment at the Julien theater November i, 1857. Among the leaders
were Abel, Dickinson, Newtli and Adams. An investigating com-
mittee of the city council found considerable irregularity, if not
downright dishonesty, in the letting and management of the city
printing. Late in December exchange on the East could not be
procured here at any price. The money market was extremely

Major Moble}', banker, who had suspended in 1857 during the
panic, reopened his bank again late in May, 1858. He was the
oldest banker here. The public charge that the post notes of the
Harbor Company caused the suspension of the Mobley bank was
answered in the negative by that gentleman. On the contrary, he
said that they had aided him and that the charge was ridiculous. He
needed them, because otherwise, in order to obtain currency, he was
obliged to send gold to Chicago and that course could not long

Strong efforts to force down in value the Harbor notes were
made. Farmers throughout the county generally believed them the


best paper money they had and much was used in every township.
A merchant in Cascade said the farmers there hked them better than
any other paper money. Anotlier in Washington township said the
same thing. The Central Impro\'ement Company also issued post
notes. Before the issue of the post notes the bankers here were

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 13 of 56)