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 15 of 56)
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House, Mark Baubien, proprietor; Peosta House, Gilliam & Shields,
proprietors ; Belfield House, T. Belfield, proprietor ; Tremont House,
Plumbe & Alexander, proprietors ; Oregon House, William Schod-
der, proprietor; American House, Joseph Miller, manager; Julien

"Dubuque dogs are superior to ordinary dogs ; they breed faster,
howl more mellifiuously and longer every night, are homelier and
present more varieties than anv other dogs of any other city in the

The Rockdale and Wasliington Literary clubs held several debates
during the winter of 1859-60. A mock court was organized in Feb-
ruary among the lawyers and citizens. In the Catholic Institute
was a mock legislature and a debating club. The Washington Liter-
ary club held weekly debates.

CITY OF DUBUQUE, 1860 TO 1869.

DUBUQUE during the fifties and sixties enjoyed the lectures
deHvered here by prominent men and women of the coun-
try under the auspices of the Young Men's Literary Asso-
In January, i860, Benjamin F. Taylor of Chicago lectured on
"Washington Irving" before the Young Men's Literary Association
and repeated the lecture by request. The new German theater at
Turner's hail was opened in January. It seated 600 persons.
Jackson's victory and Burns' and Thomas Paine's birthdays were
celebrated. The chief speaker at the latter was Christian Wul-
weber. Joseph Duggendorf proposed the following toast : "Thomas
Paine and Thomas Jefferson — the discoverers of freedom, human-
ity and intellectual progress." It was responded to by John Bittman.
The committee on finance of the city council reported as follows
in February, i860: "The present is a critical time in the financial
history of the city. Ne\'er will cautious and prudent management
be more needed. The day of lavish expenditures is past, public
improvements of all kinds abandoned, the credit of the city
exhausted, a heavy burden of debt to be borne and the only source
of revenue the taxation of a community embarrassed by unfortunate
speculation and many of its numbers struggling to save tJiemselves
from total ruin. The indebtedness of the city on the first of Janu-
ary, i860, consisted of the following obligations :

Clark, Dodge & Co. loan $ 10,000.00

Jesup loan 20,000.00

Ahern loan 2,000.00

Corcoran loan 100,000.00

Dubuque & Pacific loan 200,000.00

Dubuque Western loan 250,000.00

Loan of 1857 100,000.00

Total of coupon bonds $682,000.00

Short bonds, irregular sums 97,030.89

Interest due and unpaid 76,253.36

Scrip outstanding 25,168.91

Other debts 8,326. 13

Grand total debt $888,779.29



This sum was due, in varying amounts after the year i860. The
total amount that must be met by January i, 1861. was $228,995.49.
The property within the city limits, as assessed for taxation in 1859,
was as follows: Realty, $3,931,639; personalty, $922,363; total,
$4,854,002. These figures showed a reduction of $5,791,661, or 54
per cent, from the assessment of 1857, and a reduction of $2,879,255
or ;i7y2 per cent from that of 1858. The total resources from taxes
to January i, i860, was $126,183.49, much of which was delinquent
taxes. Two important steps were necessary : Settle the debt past
due and reduce tlie interest rate on the whole debt. The house of
Gelpcke, Reutgen & Co., of New York, early in i860 began an
injunction proceedings to prevent the city from paying out its
revenues until its dues were settled. The city began counter pro-
ceedings to dissolve the injunction and ordered that no further pay-
ments should be made to that company.

"Tlie year i860 has Ijeen remarkable in this section for a sort of
voluntary temperance movement. There has been no organization,
no apparent external movement ; but simultaneously as it were, in
the month of January, a large number of hard drinkers voluntarily
suspended opeiations in this direction. It numbers among the vic-
tims men of all classes, ages and conditions — honorables, ex-honor-
ables, lawyers, doctors, bootblacks, horse jockeys, editors, printers,
river men, hodcarriers — fellows who indulged in Heidsieck, Mous-
siere lager, 'hale' and all the brands of whisky from 'instant death'
and 'just around the corner' to the longer ranges such as 'eiglity-rod'
and 'Minie rifle.' There are other changes as marked." — {Herald,
March i, i860.)

On February 28, i860, the following prices were quoted at
Dubuque ; City scrip, 65 cents : Harbor Improvement scrip, 75
cents; the same new, 75 cents; Central Improvement scrip, 20 cents;
Dubuque & Pacific due bills, 30 cents; Dubuque & Pacific land scrip,
20 cents; Dubuque & Pacific bonds, 30 cents; Western Railroad
scrip, 8 cents ; Western Railroad bonds, 20 cents ; city short bonds,
30 cents ; city coupon bonds, 30 cents : old school orders, 60 cents ;
Harbor Improvement land scrip, 10 cents; Harbor Improvement
bonds bearing interest, 95 cents; Central Island coupon bonds, 30
cents; Central Island construction bonds, 20 cents; county warrants,
85 cents.

In May, i860. Andrew Keesecker became connected witli the
Herald. "Mr. Keesecker is the oldest printer in Iowa and it was
by his hand that the first newspaper in Iowa was struck off. He
ivas for a number of years publisher and editor of the Miners'
Express, a paper which was subsequentlv merged in tlie Herald." —
{Herald, May 16. i860.)

A section in the southern part of Dubuque was called Dublin and
became well known. Nearly all who lixcd there were guilty of the


crime of being poor and whisky was their greatest enemy, said the

"At ahnost any time from September (1859) up to May (i860)
McGregor, Cassvilie and other points up and down the river paid
from 2 to 6 cents more per bushel for wheat than our Dubuque
buyers. * * * If the fault is with the Ferry company then we
say that no monopoly has a right to exist whose operations succeed
in driving thousands of bushels of grain per season to other and
less accessible points. If, however, the fault is found in the pic-
ayunish spirit of our grain buyers, a different but none the less
needed remedy is demanded. We lay down this proposition with a
perfect confidence of its entire truthfulness: Dubuque did not buy
the last season but a very little over one-third of the grain which
naturally falls to this point." — (Herald, July 13, i860.)

The Rockdale House at Catfish Mills was kept by William John-
son in i860 and was one of the best in the county. It had excellent
and extensive stabling.

During the summer of i860 for the first time the fact that Chi-
cago was the central market for the West for grain and stock was
fully recognized here. The Grain Exchange here then paid for the
first time Chicago prices less freight rates and no longer paid serious
attention to St. Louis as either a grain or a live stock market. —
(Herald, September 5, i860.)

Dubuque lacked facilities for receiving and shipping grain in bulk
and on July 14, i860, the grain buyers and millers met for the pur-
pose of establishing a grain market with a view of regulating
freights and prices ; G. R. West presided. At the second meeting
steps to establish a grain market were taken.

Gen. George W. Jones, upon his return from Bogota in July,
i860, was tendered a public reception by the citizens of Dubuque.

On August 8. i860, about fifty of the grain buyers and millers
duly organized the Dubuque Grain Exchange.

During the summer of i860 the Dubuque Temperance Society
petitioned the city council to close saloons, gardens, etc., on the
Sabbath. At the same time a petition signed by several hundred
citizens asked that no such Sunday law be passed. After sharp
debate both petitions were laid on the table. It was claimed that
the existing Sunday law was strong enough if enforced.

In August the petition for a grain market was considered by the
council. It was signed by forty-five millers and others, and asked
that the First ward market be designated the grain market. There
were two counter petitions signed by many citizens. The council
finally established the market in the First ward.

In August the city council, made desperate by want and while
endeavoring to "raise the wind," passed an ordinance providing
that 10 per cent of the proceeds of all sales of property not assessed
for city purposes made by auctioneers within the limits of the cor-


poration should be paid into the city treasury. This act was
denounced by the press as unprecedented and extraordinary and void
on its face. It was passed in response to an urgent and numerously
signed petition.

On October 20, i860, city scrip was worth 65 cents; Harbor
Improvement scrip, 95 cents ; Central Improvement scrip, 20 cents ;
city short bonds, 60 cents; city coupon bonds, 35 cents; school
orders, 60 cents; Harbor Improvement land scrip, 10 cents; Central
Island coupon bonds, 30 cents; county warrants, 82]/^ cents^
exchange on New York, % buying, ij4 selling; exchange on Chi-
cago- Vi discount buying, 1/2 premium selling; gold, ^ to Ij4

"Just now there is huge rejoicing among the sons of Nimrod, for
air, bluff, estuary, river, marsh and morass are teeming with game.
Quails, salmon, turkeys, geese, ducks, squirrels, raccoons, partridges,
snipes, etc., are thick beyond all imagination. Sportsmen just now
are in their element. Never was game plentier or weather finer than
at present." — (Herald, October 26, i860.)

"Large numbers of fatted hogs are daily coming into town —
some stopping here, others going East. The packing season is hardly
yet commenced, but will be as soon as the weather will permit.
Very extensive preparations are being made for packing here tliis
{a\\."— (Herald, October 26, i860.)

The Brancli of the State Bank issued new bills in September,
i860, of the denominations of $1, $2, $3, $5 and $10. They were
very handsome.

The comparative merits of Milwaukee and Chicago as a grain
market for Dubuque were duly considered in i860. It was argued
that Chicago was the better, because the grain that went there
more like that from Dubuque than that which went to Milwaukee.

"The Harbor Improvement Company will ofifer for sale at auction
at their office on Seventh street today at 10 o'clock 200 lots in their
addition to Dubuque. The land dividend scrip of the company will
be received in payment." — (Herald, November i, i860.)

"Pork — The pork business is or ought to be one of the heaviest
departments of business in our city. Heretofore it has been neg-
lected — any quantity of hogs liave passed through here and been
carried to other points. This is a mistake. Dubuque should not,
under any circiunstances, allow a hog or any cattle of any kind to
pass through here. The trouble heretofore has been a lack of
capital. No one had sufficient to embark in the business. A few
have done so, but with limited means; and they have been obliged to
sell immediately after packing in order to turn their money. This
was shown last spring, when dealers in pork were obliged to import
from St. Louis the very article which they sent thither last fall."—
(Herald, November 14, i860.)

With the close of the Presidential campaign in i860, J. B. Dorr


retired permanently from the editorship of the Herald, with wliich
he had been connected over eight years. This left D. A. Mahony
to manage the paper alone.

The annual assessment in Dubuque for a series of years was as
follows :

1854 $ 2,762,638 1858 $ 6,080.917

1855 4.323-560 1859 4.854,002

1856 8,221,228 i860 2,625,862

1857 10,200,000

From 185 1 to 1857 there was a natural growth of great rapidity
due primarily to its excellent reputation and to the capital already
secured. This growth continued because it was believed Dubuque
was fitted with natural facilities possessed by no other city of the
Northwest, and because it was believed that the river, the approach-
ing railroads and the vast tributary country to the westward and
northwestward must contribute to the permanence of its growth.
By 1857 other cities had made great gains in securing the western
trade which Dubuque had coveted ; the river traffic began to decline
— due to the appearance of the railroads. On the heels of all this
came poor crops and the dreadful panic of 1857 — all of which
together dissipated in a large measure the dream of future greatness
and metropolitan distinction and proportion. Business men lost
heart as fast as they lost trade permanently and many closed their
shops and stores and went elsewhere. During 1858 and 1859 ^ com-
plete blight fell like a frost on all commercial transactions here,
but in i860 there was a much better feeling and a distinct revival
of prosperous conditions.

"Judging from the evidences of activity in business, the lowering
of city indebtedness, the absence of foolhardy speculation, the incom-
ing of immigration, the inquiries for real estate, the improvements
begun or projected, Dubuque has passed through the valley and
shadow of financial Death and is now with vigorous steps climbing
once more the ascents beyond." — {Herald, November 24, 1860.)

A well ten feet in diameter was dug on Tenth street between
Jackson and Washington for the use of the fire department, in
November, i860. It was thought the well would be better than cis-
terns. The tri-weekly Demokrat was discontinued and only the
weekly issued after November 17, i860. By November 17 exchange
on New York was up to 5 per cent premium selling. Exchange on
Chicago had not risen, was at from ^ per cent discount to V2 pc
cent premium. City scrip was worth 65 cents and county warrants
85 cents. On the 19th city scrip advanced to 67^^ cents. The
Dubuque banks began about November 20, i860, to throw out the
bills of all doubtful institutions, and to exercise great care in the
circulation handled.


J. H. Kothe composed music here late in i860: one of his com-
positions was tlie Dubuque Waltz, published by \V. J. Gill)ert of
this city — all home productions. The Germanic band arranged it
for the street. Dubuque caught the billiard fever which was raging
over the country late in i860. S. S. Palmer was cliosen chief
engineer of the fire department December 3, i860.

The large grain elevator of the Dubuque & Sioux City Railroad
and the Dubuque, Marion & Western Railroad, comjileted late in
i860, had a capacity of 150,000 bushels. The cost of storage for
twenty days was 2 cents a bushel, for four months 4 cents. It
adjoined the track of the railroads.

On December 4, i860. New York e.xchange was quoted at 7 per
cent premium selling; gold, 10 per cent selling: city scrip, 70 cents;
county warrants, 85 cents.

In Dubuque, in December, i860, in one house on Sixth street
near Clay, were some fifty or sixty negroes — all black Republicans.
They got in a row over the right of a state to secede, whereupon
one of them seceded from the others, was arrested and fined and
sent to jail for thirty days for assault, said the Herald. "Very few,
if any, live hogs are being cut up in this city, but are carried through
to Chicago. This is wrong. We think our dealers are missing it.
very materially." — (Herald, December 18. i860.) A lodge of Good
Templars was organized in Dubucjue in December, i860, with E. R.
Shankland as worthy chief.

On January 4, 1861. the National Deiiwkrat (German ) entered
upon its fifth year, four of which it was under Hon. F. A. GnifTke.
"Yesterday forenoon Conductors Northrup's and Cawley's trains
both came in. The latter left here one week ago last Tuesday, the
former one day later. Cawley was frozen at Jesup and Northrup
two miles the other side of Independence. Slow traveling to and
from Jesup in eleven days — yet fast enough considering the going."
— (Herald, February 2, 1861.) In January, 1861, there was strong
talk of building a horse railroad from Dubuque up the valley of the
Turkey river and eventually on to the Minnesota line.

"Two years ago the same property (lots in Davis', West's and
Cook's additions) or any other ofifered for sale at auction would
not have attracted three Jsuyers. In fact, at that time a man would
no more bid on real estate than he would on an elephant or an acre
in some valley of the moon. Thursday, however. Jordan's auction
room was so crowded at the hour of sale that perhaps a hundred
people were unable to gain admittance. The bidding was spirited
and we believe the prices, although almost infinitely below those of
'55-'6, are an indication of a healthy condition. As an illustration
of the character of the tremendous expansion and collapse of things
hereabouts we will cite the history of two or three of the above lots:
Lot 308 of Davis' Farm addition was bought by D. A. Mahony of
Mr. San ford for $500 in April, 1857. It was sold Thursday for


$105 — just about wliat it is actually worth. The two Locust street
lots were bought by H. W. Sanford in 1852 for $800. In 1856 he
sold them to Captain Kinsey for $7,000 on ten years' time. Major
Mobley, who was regarded as one of the shrewdest business men
in Dubuque, very shortly afterward gave Captain Kinsey $5,000
cash for his bargain ! Thursday both were bought by A. McCann
for $1,920. Such have been the changes through which real estate
has passed in the last five years. There is now, however, eveiy indi-
cation that the valuation of real estate is upon a substantial basis. —
{Herald, February 2, 1861.)

Delinquent Taxes, March, 1861.

Delinquent tax of 1857 $17,161

Interest i i>7S5

Delinquent tax of 1858 24,278

Interest 10,318

Delinquent tax of 1859 22,813

Interest 3-992

Delinquent tax of i860 35.494

In February, 1861, Col. Richard P. Morgan proposed a horse
railroad and argued that as steam railroads had really taken trade
away from Dubuque horse railroads could and would bring it back
if extended as they should be. The Herald noted that previous to
February 13, 1861, snow to the depth of nineteen inches had fallen
and most of it still lay upon the ground either where it had fallen
or in drifts. On the 13th and 14th fifteen inches more fell. In
February, 1861, Adam Jaeger began here the distillation of alcohol
and the manufacture of whisky on Bee Branch.

On March 22, 1861, city scrip was quoted at 55 cents; school
orders, 50 cents ; county warrants, 90 cents ; exchange on New York,
6 per cent premium selling; gold, 6 per cent premium. E. C. David
received the appointment as postmaster of Dubuque late in March,
1861. About the middle of March, 1861, the Herald began the issue
of a bi-weekly in addition to its daily and weekly editions. It was
issued as an experiment.

Newman & Cooper and Cooper & Smith were large manufac-
turers of wagons and plows in 1861. The former were selling
from five to ten wagons a week in March and the latter were turn-
ing out annually 1,000 plows. They also manufactured harrows
and other agricultural implements.

The banking houses here in March, 1861, were as follows : State
Bank Branch, H. Markell & Co. ; J. L. Langworthy & Bros. ; Bab-
bage & Co. ; Theo. Gelpcke & Co. The second mentioned were the
successors to Markell, Darrow cS: Co., and the last mentioned were
the successors to Gelpcke, Winslow & Co.


Mike Blumenauer's scliool of g>-mnastics had a class of twenty-
five men and about fifteen boys early in April, 1861. Gymnastics
had been taught here before by Professor Schill. The Cincinnati
Price Current said that Dubuque in 1860-61 packed 5,068 hogs,
against 3,400 the year before.

For the fiscal year 1860-61 the recei])ts were $55,249.05, and the
expenses $36,484.76.

Of the receipts above nearly $50,000 was delinquent or old school
and special tax previous to i860. From the special interest tax of
1859 and the delinquent tax of the same year alone the receipts
were $26,000. The largest items of expense were $8,665.90 inter-
est on coupon bonds and $9,425.30 for outstanding city bonds.

The Dubuque Elevator Company during the winter of 1860-61
shipped large quantities of grain to Chicago. Many times it sent
from 10,000 to 20,000 bushels at one date. In the spring of 1861
it was shown that in Dubuque few if any residences either of the
rich or poor had water, gas or proper ventilation. Few if any
houses had been constructed with a view to ventilation. Many
houses had no water in their yards, and not over a dozen in the
city had water accommodations inside. This was, no doubt, owing
to the absence of waterworks. Gas was a luxury scarcely to be
afforded by the richest citizens and for the average and poor citi-
zens was quite out of the question. — (Herald, April 11, 1861.)

The failure of Gelpcke & Co., May 6, 1861, caused great excite-
ment among the depositors and throughout the business circles of
Dubuque. A large crowd collected at the bank. It became rumored
that Theo. Gelpcke had left the city, taking all the gold with him,
or else had secreted himself here. About fifty men accordingly
gathered at his residence on Locust street with the intention of
searching the premises. Upon learning that he was not at home
the crowd, now about one hundred, moved down Main street, where
they were addressed at the Washington House bv William B.
Allison, who stated that he, as assignee, was preparing a statement
of the bank's condition. He said he had $5,000 of the bank's
cash and that the amount due depositors was about $40,000, and
notes soon due to the amount of about $12,000 more. He promised
to do all he could for depositors. Rev. Mr. Dennis also addressed
the crowd (now over 200) and advised moderation. He said on
authority that 50 to 60 per cent of the bank's debts would be paid.
Tlie crowd slowly dispersed. In June the assignee paid 20 per cent :
total liabilities about $37,000.

On May 15, 1861, New York exchange was 10 per cent pre-
mium selling, and American gold 15 per cent same; Chicago
exchange was at par. The merchants assembled in mass meeting
late in May, 1861, to devise means to get rid of the pest of depre-
ciated currency from which all suffered. F. V. Goodrich was chair-
man. The subject was fully c<Misidcred, and protests against any


action were presented. At an adjourned meeting Patrick Quigley
presided. The committee appointed at tlie previous meeting recom-
mended the E. K. Willard & Co. list of Chicago for Illinois bills.
An 80 and 90 cent list was recommended for Wisconsin bills. They
further recommended 35 cents for depreciated Illinois bills and 40
cents for depreciated Wisconsin bills. There was much difference
of opinion as to what should be done, and all realized that any list
adopted would need constant revision.

The Eighteenth Annual Grand Communication of the Grand
Lodge (Masonic) commenced at Dubuque, June 4, 1861, in Tur-
ner's hall. Thomas H. Benton, G. M. of Council Bluffs, was pres-
ent and in his official position. E. A. Guilbert, of Dubuque, was
senior grand warden: J. S. Dennis, of Dubuque, grand chaplain;
W. K. Hall, of Dubuque, A. G. T., and H. S. Jennings, of Dubuque,
G. P. They passed resolutions regretting the death of Senator

On June 20, 1861, New York exchange was 10 per cent premium
selling; American gold, 15 per cent premium selling: city scrip,
55 cents ; county warrants, 90 cents ; school orders, 50 cents ; Cen-
tral Improvement scrip, 10 cents; city short bonds, 50 cents; city
coupon bonds, 30 cents. By the last of June, i85i, the walls of the
custom house were up and ready for the roof — no more could be
done yet. On July 21, 1861, the Herald came down to the new
financial gold basis and quoted New York exchange at 2 per cent
premium and American gold at 1/0 per cent premium. The Fourth
of July, 1861, was celebrated here in grand style. Lincoln Clark
was the principal orator. A chorus of eighteen singers rendered the
national airs. Bands, parades and boat excursions were features.
On Wednesday, July 29, 1861, the mercury reached 98 degrees in
the shade; on the 30th, 98; on the 31st, 99, and on August i, 91.
There was much complaint because hogs were permitted to roam
the streets. The city had plenty of laws, but the hogs would not
mind them, humorously observed the Herald.

In August, New York exchange was 2 per cent premium selling,
American gold i/^ per cent premium selling, city scrip 50 cents,
county warrants 88 cents, school orders 50 cents.

"In passing around town and seeing now and then an empty

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 15 of 56)