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 14 of 56)
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compelled to bring in the notes of Wisconsin and Illinois banks, but
after the issue of the post notes they were not forced to do so. —
(Express and Herald, December i6, 1857.) A Mr. D. S. Moody
engaged in buying wheat at Dyersville, used Harbor money exclu-
sively with the fanners, who received it at par, while nearly all other
paper currency was at from 3 to 10 per cent discount. A consider-
able amount of city scrip was in circulation late in 1857.

The city held $80,000 of the Central Improvement Company
bonds in December, 1857. The city issued its own scrip in is, 2s, 3s
and IDS. In 1857 a new city charter was demanded. The Protestant
churches united on a plan to relieve the destitute late in 1857. The
Catholic churches acted likewise independently. Late in 1857 work
on the new passenger station at Iowa and Jones streets was com-
menced. The manufacture of shot was begun here in 1857. but was
suspended and resumed in 1859.

The real reason why no more could be paid here for wheat and
other grains was because it cost too much to be put down in St.
Louis. Wheat that was bought here for 50 cents per bushel cost
70 when put down in St. Louis, where the market price was 62
cents only.

The Central Improvement Company issued post notes about
December 7, 1857. The stockholders were made individually liable
for them. They were made payable at different times and bore 10
per cent interest. During the winter of 1857-8 the newspapers were
full of charges and countercharges concerning crookedness in the
assignment of city printing. The points were fought out with great
bitterness. A committee appointed to investigate made a majority
and a minority report.

The extensive flouring mill of James Pratt & Co., adjoining
Dubuque, was a notable feature. It had been started about eighteen
years before 1858, or as early as 1840. An old mill was of wood,
but an immense brick addition had been built. The mill had cost
$20,000. There were three runs of eight buhrs each with a capacity
of 300 barrels in twenty- four hours. The power was water with an
overshot wheel fourteen and one-half feet in diameter and fifteen
feet wide. The dam and flume iiad cost $4,000 and the tail race

Tlie People's theater was opened in September, 1857; the drop
curtain, representing Cole's "Voyage of Life," was executed by Mr.
Gulic, of Dubuque. Late in 1857 the heavy bank and business fail-
ures in the East caused extreme caution here ; bankers loaned spar-
ingly at 2 per cent a month. In October the census then taken


showed a population of 15,957. In September, 1837, the horse-
railroad question was again considered ; a number of citizens applied
to the council and were granted the riglit to construct a road ; N. A.
McClure was connected with this movement. In October, 1857,
the panic struck this city; the houses of Flaven & Co., Flinn & Bro.
and A. C. Pearson suspended. Mass meetings of citizens decided it
prudent for the harbor companies to issue post notes to relieve the
situation. Later Cameron & Fry and Kemler & Cannon suspended.
In January, 1858, Gray & Waldron and C. W. Arthur closed

Among the improvements at this time were the following: In
1856, 502 buildings of all kinds were erected and in 1857, 378;
gas works, custom house commenced, Second Presbyterian church.
First Presbyterian church, market house at Jones and Main, Malo-
ney and Rebman five blocks, St. Raphael's church under way, Cen-
tral market, Tammany stables, jail building at Clay and Eighth,
Tremont hotel, Lorimier hotel, Congregational church started,
county poorhouse commenced ; on Jones street levee nine ware-
houses, on Seventh street levee three warehouses, white lead works.
From April 13, 1857, to December i, 1857, the city spent in paving,
grading and macadamizing $93,932. It built over ten miles of side-
walks, eight miles of curbing. The three harbor companies had made
vast improvements — they were Dubuque Harbor, Dubuque Harbor
Improvement and Central Improvement. Gas pipe laid extended
4,550 feet. "We are at the most important point on the upper Mis-
sissippi, a point which has given our city the soubriquet of 'Key
City.' As the key she commands the whole of northwestern Iowa
and southern Minnesota." — (Statistics of Express and Herald,
January i, 1858.)

An act of the Legislature, January, 1858, revised and consolidated
the laws of Dubuque and established a city court, of which the chief
officers were judge, clerk and marshal. In December, 1857, the
railway land in Dubuque county was restored to market. The whole
number of business houses which had suspended, assigned or closed
out during October, November and December, 1857, and the first
half of January, 1858, was sixty-one, and yet the city and business
houses had fair credit and prosperity. By January 12, 1858, the
following companies had issued post notes : Dubuque Harbor,
Dubuque Harbor Improvement, Dubuque Seventii (Central) Street
Improvement, Dubuque & Pacific Railway, Dubuque & Western
Railway, and City of Dubuque.

In January, 1858, the immense new St. Cloud hotel on Main
street between Ninth and Tenth, 113x194 feet and five stories high
and 200 rooms and nine fine store rooms, was burned. It had
cost $95,000 and was insured for $80,000 ; this was by far the worst
fire ever here up to this date.

In February, 1858, the new city hall at the corner of Thirteenth


and Clay streets was occupied by the recorder, auditor, treasurer,
board of education and engineer of the city. There the mayor's
court was held thereafter.

The Express and Herald attacked roughshod the "city plunder-
ers" in I'ebruary, 1858. "Not only are the 'city plunderers' to be
headed off from their attempt to subjugate the First and Fourth
wards, but the street commissioner is to be hauled over the coals."

Among the reforms accomplished in city government in 1858-9
were the following: Reduction of ferriage; blending of offices;
closing of House of Refuge and City Hospital; macadamizing
streets partly at private expense ; upbuilding of city credit ; funding
of the city debt; providing for the payment of interest; abolishing
the office of city printer, etc. A large bell was placed in the city
hall on May 21, 1858. It weighed 3,098 pounds and cost the city
$1,352. It was cast at Troy, New York.

Mayor Hetherington, on taking his office in April, 1858, delivered
an inaugural address from which the following points are extracted :
He had taken the census here himself in 1852 and there were then
4,012 inhabitants. Since that date to April, 1858, there had been an
annual increase of about 30 per cent. "The outward signs of pros-
perity are awfully deceptive. They indicate the disease and corrup-
tion at work upon the citadel of life. Notwithstanding the apparent
prosperity our city has become profligate, spendthrift, has wasted
her substance and ruined her credit and good name by fast living,
by projecting and carrying on costly improvements and going into
extravagant expenditures, and not having the ability to meet the
expense thus incurred. She is forced to make short loans and nay
exorbitant interest until the regular interest upon the funded debt,
together with heavy shares upon short loans, are swallowing up
almost her entire revenue."

He then reviewed the finances of the city and showed the extent
of the extravagance. The whole amount of railroad bonds voted
was $1,500,000, of which $550,000 had been issued. He showed
that the last city council had expended $350,000, while the revenue
amounted to only $137,000. For the fiscal year 1857-8 the gross
expenditures of Dubuque were $350,963, and the gross receipts
$137,817. The total liabilities or indelitedncss of the city on April 6,
1858, was $727,678. Of this amount there was outstanding city
scrip to the amount of $47,926; city bonds to the Dubuque and
Pacific railroad, $200,000; city bonds to the Dubuque Western rail-
road, $250,000. There had been issued during the year $93,208 in
city bonds to retire city scrip. The new market liouses liad cost
$54,686, there being four in all. Street improvement cost $67,671 ;
schoolhouses, $51,765; loss on city scrip and on Seventh Street and
Central Island Company's bonds paid out, $25,308.

Erackctt & Howland packed ])ork here in 1857-8. The bankers in
February, 1858, were Taylor. Richards & Burden: Redmand, Lovell


& Co. ; Markell, Darrow & Co. ; W. J. Barney & Co. ; Finley, Burton
& Co. ; Gelpcke, Winslow & Co., and the Langvvorthys. In the
spring of 1858 H. H. Heath was postmaster. In 1858, on the pro-
posed general banking law, Dubuque and Julien Township voted as
follows : For the law, 1,105 ; against the law, 40. For a State bank,
1,260; against it, 32. There was much complaint in 1858 over the
management of the House of Refuge; the keeper was declared to be
a brute ; it had been established several years earlier. In August,
1858, as high as 175 teams were here in market at one time. On
August 16, 1858, the Queen's message was received here over the
newly laid Atlantic cable ; an immense celebration of the event was
held. In the fall of 1858 A. Bayless, formerly of the Milwaukee
Commercial College, opened here in the Maloney building the
Dubuque Commercial College, which is yet in existence. Odeon, a
German theater, opened in 1858 on Main between Eighth and Ninth.
Of the new State bank in 1858 F. N. Goodrich was president and
R. E. Graves cashier. It was called "City of Dubuque Branch of the
State Bank of Iowa;" there were 109 stockholders. The Dubuque
Musical Union gave attractive performances at Globe hall in Sep-
tember, 1858. H. S. Hetherington was president.

The Dubuque Daily Ledger was established in September, 1858,
by Flaven & Co., publishers. The number of families in Dubuque
in 1857 was 3,939, and in 1858, 4,411. The gas company, in viola-
tion of their agreement, raised the price from $3.50 to $4.50 per
thousand feet. The company reported a debt of $120,000 and
receipts that did not warrant a continuance at the old figures.
The Daily Times was discontinued in November, 1858, but in De-
cember it again resumed lively existence. Jesse Clements wrote
good poetry in 1858. In October, 1858, the National Dcmokrat
began as a daily. Late in 1858 C. Childs wrote a history of
Dubuque in 400 quarto pages.

"Saturday the thermometer reached 98 and 100 in the shade;
Sunday 100 and 103, and yesterday from 102 to 105." — {Express
and Herald, August 10, 1858.)

When the Central Island Company bought the islands, they
assumed the Corkery loan of $100,000, the Jesup loan of $20,000
and agreed to pay the city $80,000 in ten years with 10 per cent
interest — in all $200,000. The company in 1858 notified the council
that it would be unable to meet the interest on the bonds. The city
held a mortgage on the property for $80,000, leaving $120,000 not
provided for by mortgage. Against the proposition for the city
to take back the property of the Central Improvement Company, 400
citizens remonstrated. The company had failed and was seeking a
way out of its troubles.

There was a big reduction in rents in Dubuque in the fall of
1858. '"Dwelling houses that a year or eighteen months ago would
rent from $300 to $400, can now be rented for less than half the


amount, and in many instances go begging at these rates for tenants.
Also stores which from eighteen months to two years ago were
grasped by shylocks as soon as finished or empty and re-rented at
bonuses at high rates from $i,ooo to $3,000 per annum, are now
rented at from $400 to $600, $800 and $1,200 per annum." —
{Express and Herald, September 12, 1858. )

By September 27, 1858, the amount of city bonds issued in Heu
of scrip was $127,647.32. They ran for one, three, four and five

At this time, owing to the great financial and commercial dis-
tress prevailing throughout the country, the following resolution
was passed : "That hereafter this council will not authorize, coun-
tenance or consent to the issuing, sale, use or negotiation of the
bonds above described, or any part thereof, or any transaction,
arrangement or scheme which shall require the issue or expenditure
of money other than for the payment of interest already con-
tracted for, from the city treasury for railroad purposes." It was
passed unanimously.

In the autumn of 1858 there arose a serious controversy between
the school authorities and the city council as to the ownership of
the school property in the city. It was vested in the city, but the
school ofiicers insisted it should be vested in their name and that
they should have sole and exclusive jurisdiction over the same.
The city council could not see the matter in the same light. Accord-
ingly an agreed case was made an issue and argued by J. David,
George L. Nightingale and D. S. Wilson for the city, and J. E.
Bissell for the school authorities.

In January, 1859, the outlook at Dubuque was anything but
promising. The crops had failed largely, the financial crisis was
still in existence and the railroads seemed at a standstill. There
was little money at home and no credit abroad. But late in 1859
the Dubuque & Pacific was finished to Independence and the
Dubuque Western to Langworthy. Late in 1859 the city had
grown rapidly, but its credit was low and its scrip far below
par. In this emergency the house of Gelpcke & Co. agreed to
advance the required funds and ineet the different engagements as
they became due, and to be repaid for the advances by the succes-
sive collection of ta.xes. The ta.xes were not collected as expected,
but the company promptly met every engagement according to
agreement and only asked 10 per cent for the use of its money.
No city scrip was issued in 1859, no floating debt was created.

In 1857 the Dubuque city council had adopted the subterfuge of
issuing bonds in lieu of scrip. It was a temporary financial expedi-
ent to prevent the immense amount of scrip outstanding from
becoming utterly worthless and to make room for a still heavier
issue, exceeding in the space of six months $150,000. Holders of
scrip were allowed to con\ert it into bonde drawing 10 per cent


interest. All this led to an additional interest tax to meet the
bonds as they became due. Being unable to meet these extra
expenses, the city authorities were obliged to resort to the scheme
for exchanging their bonds for new coupon bonds on longer time.
Thus really the scrip was transformed into a permanent debt draw-
ing a high rate of interest. "At the present value of scrip the hold-
ers will have the full cost returned to them in less than four years
in the shape of interest, continuing to enjoy the comfortable income
of 25 per cent on their investment. The scrip upon which these
bonds are based has been issued at from 40 cents to 75 cents on the
dollar. It was necessary to continue this bond issue, otherwise the
scrip would fall much lower." Probably the value to the city of
scrip issued did not exceed 50 cents on the dollar. To meet the
interest on the bonds there was required by 1859 an annual tax of

A committee of citizens prepared a new charter for the city in
January, 1859. At this date the city had three fire engines, three
hose carts, and one hook and ladder brigade ; there were sixteen
public cisterns, each holding 600 barrels. The entire system was
yet wholly voluntary. J. B. Howard was chief, and Philip Sage,
assistant. At this time the city recorder announced that thereafter
no paper money except of the branches of the State bank would be
accepted in payment of taxes.

All winter, 1858-9, this county and community suffered from
dogs and mad dogs. Scarcely an issue of the papers was seen with-
out accounts of "some doggoned canine outrage."

"As predicted, yesterday witnessed the consummation of the
scheme of plunder long known as the 'Central Island proposition.'
The company and the members of the council in their interests
(B. B. Richards, Franklin Hinds, Robert Mitton, Samuel Virden,
N. Nadeau) have at last succeeded in binding the city of Dubuque
to pay the debt which two years ago Jesse P. Farley, F. V. Good-
rich, A. J. Goss, F. E. Bissell, R. C. Waples, R. W. Walmsley, C.
Pelan and A. Anderson bound themselves honorably to pay. Nay,
more, by the villainy of these members of the city council the city
is now made to pay $120,000 and interest amounting at least to
two-thirds of the purchase money for one-third of the property
then purchased for $200,000. Neither Jesse P. Farley nor any
other man in the city can justify the manner in which the company
then obtained the property ; but bad as it was it was righteous and
honest compared with the present plunder scheme." — {Express and
Herald, March 11, 1859.) "Gentlemen, I wash my hands of the
whole Central Island fraud and shall enter my protest against it."
said Mayor Hetherington. It was openly charged that the mavor
was not sincere in this statement and that he secretly favored the

A petition seeking to limit tlie power of the city council to buv


and sell real estate and to incur indebtedness was circulated and
largely signed at Dubuque in March, 1859.

So great was the feeling against the city council in the spring of
1859, the press and public did all they could to purge that body and
elect inen of known character and honesty. "One thing the men
of property — the tax payers and all upright citizens — must remem-
ber, that if good men refuse to take office and suffer from the
wasteful or corrupt management of city officials they have no right
to complain. We want men of substance, standing, integrity, busi-
ness capacity — who will not go into the city council in order to
promote selfish schemes of their own," said the Express and Herald,
March 10, 1859.

James E. Murdock, the celebrated actor, appeared here in April,
1859. Miss Matilda Herron was here in April also, and was fol-
lowed by James K. Hackett ; he made an excellent Falstaff . Henry
Farren, actor, was given a "benefit" in May.

Murdock, Hackett and Miss Herron were the earliest theatrical
stars of the first magnitude to appear in Dubuque ; but they were
not well patronized. Henry Farren had made great and expensive
efforts to provide a treat for the citizens, but was not remunerated
for his enterprise. He had an excellent stock company. Mrs.
Farren was an actress of more than ordinary taste, versatility and
popularity. Mr. W. Edwards had great range of ability — excellent
in comedy, good in tragedy. Mr. McClannin made an excellent old
man. Mr. Pardy was good. Mr. J. F. Lytton was easy and a
good singer. Miss Reignolds and ]\Irs. McClannin were good.
Miss Llewellyn was a verj- graceful dancer. Mr. Noyes was good
and improving rapidly. Mr. Farren was able, a favorite here, and
usually took second part to the stars who came to Dubuque. They
were the principal members of the Dubuque stock company.

The dramatic season here closed on May 14, 1859, and the actors
departed for other places. The profession was roundly abused by
the Christian Witness for acting at all. It was known that the
company had made great efforts to please the people and had
mainly failed owing generally to the prejudice against the stage.
Many citizens, however, favored the continuance here of the com-
pany. Welsh Edwards and such other actors as he could get, con-
tinued to give performances in Dubuque during the summer of
1859. After the burning of the People's theater his company
appeared in the Julien theater. Many amateurs made their

In April, 1859, Pelig Talman & Co. leased the shot tower and
began operations. The old Central market stood at Locust and
Fifth streets. M. Mobley was one of the three state directors of the
State Bank of Iowa in 1859. George W. Jones, who had been
apjiointed minister to Bogota, New Granada, was tendered a public
dinner by about 200 of the most prominent citizens of Dubuque in


Y. W. C. A.




May, 1859. He was compelled to decline for want of time. During
the spring of 1859 the papers were filled with accounts of the move-
ment westward to Pike's Peak. From the opening of navigation
to May 18, 1859, there passed through Duhuque bound for Pike's
Peak 720 teams. The press here did all it could to check this
movement. Prices at Dubuque on May 24, 1859, were as follows:
Flour, extra, $7; wheat, $1 to $1.10 old, 60 to 90 cents new; oats,
old 55 cents, new 35 to 45 cents; corn, 55 to 57 cents; barley,
45 to 50 cents; butter, 12 to 13 cents; eggs, 63^ cents; potatoes,
65 to 70 cents.

At a fire here on May 27, 1859, there were destroyed Odd Fel-
lows' block, People's theater. Masonic hall and several stores.
Many small concerns and individuals lost heavily. The total loss,
deducting insurance, was $58,350. The postoffice matter was all
saved. Two big hotels had been burned here within eighteen months
before — Merchants and St. Cloud.

The disbanding of the police force in the spring of 1859 was
followed by an increase in all manner of crimes in Dubuque — fires,
burglaries, pickpockets, etc. During three months in the spring of
1859 there were stolen in Dubuque alone twenty-five cows. This
was one of the results of the disbanding of the police force.

"A fellow who was trying to sell one of our citizens some ever-
greens Thursday assured the citizen that the trees which lie already
possessed were of 'the ordinariest kind.' We learn that Stanton of
the Dyersville Mercury has entered suit against the fellow for
trespass." — (Express and Herald. June 26, 1859.)

The corner stone of Turners' hall was laid June 20, 1859, at Cla}'
and Twelfth streets. The names of the founders of the society
were recorded as follows: George Weigel (died in 1854), Fred
Wetzel, William Smith, Fred Jenkel, Charles Kerlike, Frank E.
Deggendorf, Hugo Deggendorf, J. Kutscli and Gustave Ebert.
Speeches were delivered by Dr. Hillgaertner, O. P. Shiras and
Adam Koch. The Nortlnvcst was revived about June i, 1859,
under H. H. Heath, editor, and P. M. Guthrie, publisher. There
were here also the Sun, Times, Herald, Republican and Tribune.

In the spring of 1859 city scrip was worth 65 cents on the dollar;
old Harbor Improvement scrip, 50 cents ; new Harbor Improvement
scrip, 65 cents ; Central scrip, 50 cents ; Dubuque & Pacific due bills,
30 cents; Western railroad scrip, 10 cents; Western railroad bonds,
1 5 cents ; short city bonds, 45 cents ; city coupon bonds, 60 cents ;
old school orders, 90 cents; new school orders, 50 cents; Dubuque &
Pacific land scrip, 30 cents; Harbor Improvement land scrip, 10
ce.its; Central Island coupon bonds, 50 cents; Central Island con-
struction bonds, county warrants, par.

On July 6, 1859, the Daily Express and Herald became the
Dubuque Herald, with J. B. Dorr & Co. as publishers. On July 4,
1859, the corner stone of the custom house was laid with due cere-


niony by the Masons. On July i6, 1859, it was 99 degrees in the

Previous to 1859 there was no old settlers' association at Dubuque
— there had been an old settlers' supper a year or two before, but
no organization.

In October, 1859, the following breweries were in operation:
Stahlman's, on Julien avenue ; Western, Tschirge & Schwind pro-
prietors ; Schmidt's, in West Dubuque ; Heeb's, at West Dubuque ;
Seeger's, near the bluff. The capital invested in breweries was
$124,000; barrels made in 1859, 22,000; barley used, bushels,
44,000; barrels exported, 7,443; men employed, 125. Mr. Schwind
expressed the opinion to the Herald reporter that from thirty to
forty glasses per day was about right for each individual. He said :
"Too moosh visky ish too moosh, but too moosh logger bier ish
choost enoof." The press late in 1859 wanted to know why
Dubuque did not pack more pork ; it was behind in this industry
almost every other large city in the state. The Turners dedicated
their new hall at Clay and Twelfth, December 16, 1859. The Rock-
dale and Dubuque debating societies contested on many questions in
1859-60. At a shooting match in December, 1859, Samuel Cox,
J. Van Alstine, William Ellison and J. McAleer contested for a
purse of $20; twenty-one yards rise, ten birds; McAleer won with
nine out of ten.

The leading hotels here in May, 1859, were as follows: Baubien

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 14 of 56)