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 16 of 56)
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building once filled with goods or occupied four or five years ago
by some man who soon ran his peculiar race of folly or extrava-
gance, we are reminded of the contrast between the flush times of
1856-57 and the dullness of 1861-62." — (Herald, August 10,

One of the most extensive branches of business here in 1861 and
before was the lumber trade. Seven or eight firms were thus
engaged with a large capital.

In September, 1861, over 130,000 bushels of wheat were received
here by railroad from the West. There were also received 5,000


barrels of flour. In one week 48,000 bushels of wheat were
received. One of the best improvements of the city council in 1861
was the building of Southern avenue in its continuation over
Cavanaugh hill ; it cost over $200, but was considered well worth
the money.

Samuel McNutt succeeded J. B. Dorr in editorial charge of the
Union. A new cable was successfully laid across the ri\er from
Dunleith to Dubuque, September 3, 1861. Furniture on a large
scale was manufactured here in 1861, but it was a recent industry
on so large a scale ; only a few years before Dubucjue had bought
its furniture in the East. Herancourt began this business in 1846,
and ten years later built a big factory and employed from twenty-
five to forty men; he made chairs, sofas, tables, desks, etc.

Immense quantities of "stumplail currency" of Eastern institu-
tions were in circulation here and throughout the West in Novem-
ber, 1 86 1. Farmers were warned against it and advised to take
nothing but gold and silver for their wheat, etc.

Large quantities of wheat arrived here in November, 1861, and
were handled by the Dubu<iue Elevator Company. The Elevator
Company was shipping thirty to forty carloads of wheat per day —
12,000 to 14,000 bushels. The Elevator Company was now ready
to store wheat for the winter.

"Look Out for Bad Money — The farmers are beginning to
'smell a rat' about the State Bank paying out the 'promises to pay'
of Tom, Dick and Harry's Eastern bank instead of the notes of
the branches of the Iowa State Bank, the only bank paper that any
farmer ought to take for his produce. A sensible German farmer
slightly opened the eyes of one of the wheat dealers yesterday who
offered him checks on the State bank. Said he, 'No. I must gold
haben for my veat.' And he got the gold. If the wheat dealers
are in the bank's interest in shoving off rags that in a few weeks or
months may be like the Illinois or Wisconsin currency, paid out by
the State bank and that hit the fanners, lead miners and everybody
else six months ago, it is time for the farmers to understand it." —
{Herald, November 16, 1861).

In December, 1861, the Herald favored the recommendation of
Secretary Chase concerning the establishment of National banks,
because it believed they would drive out wildcat issues. Late in
December Eastern banks began to suspend specie payments and
trouble here was anticipated and in a measure forestalled. Samuel
McNutt retired from the Union in December, 1861, and the daily
ceased to be issued.

Dubuque market, January 3, 1862. — Extra flour. $4.75; wheat,
choice, 58 cents; eggs, 12I/2 cents; oats, 12 to 14 cents; corn in ear,
15 to 17 cents; hay, timothy, $6; butter, 10 cents; potatoes, 35 to 40
cents; prairie chickens, $1.50 per dozen; quails, 65 to 70 cents per
dozen; dressed pork. $2 to $2.50; dressed beef, $2.25 to $3.50 ])er


cwt. ; beef steaks, 6 to 7 cents a pound; pork steaks, 5 to 6 cents a
pound ; turkeys, 40 to 65 cents each.

A Mr. K. bought flour at a mill and received in change a half
dollar coin which he was later told was bogus. He returned,
demanded good money, was refused and brought suit before Justice
O'Meara. There were several witnesses and a long trial. Sud-
denly the court thought best to test the coin, whereupon a jeweler
pronounced it genuine. It was suggested that the constable should
pay the costs.

Pat, an Irishman in the wood market here, described to the
Herald reporter his girl in Ireland, as follows : "A fine, strappin'
goil wus Mary as iver tied a shafe of corn or driv a lump of a pig
to market. The divil a bit of harm was in her and she was as full of
fun as an egg is of mate. She was as straight as a rush wid the
complexion of the rose and peaches united in one."

"Send Us Treasury Notes — We will take United States treasury
notes for subscription to the Dubuque Herald in preference to any
bank notes, whether of Iowa, Ohio or Indiana. Persons remitting
us money will act accordingly." — (Herald, January 19, 1862.)

The marshal began to sieze game under the game law in Janu-
ary, 1862. Bayard Taylor lectured here in January. Gen. Tom
Thumb was here also. On January 31 all trains were stopped by
a big snowstorm. A concert of 200 children under Mr. Wheeler
was an interesting event of the winter of 1861-2. This concert
was repeated several times by request — "Wheeler's Juvenile Con-
cert." Another feature was the immense shipment of wheat to
Dunleith by teams.

Pork Packing in Dubuque, Winter of 1861-62.

Firms. Hogs.

F. Weigle 360

Strobel & Rath 800

H. Brinkman & Co. . . . 825

Mr. Rosenburg 350

J. Hughes 930

Richard O'Brien 300

Brackett & Morse 4,750

Totals 8,315 2,048 3,305 3,344

In addition about 5,000 were shipped from here in bulk, and
many live hogs were shipped during the winter.

Tlie old Express and Herald office was sold by the sheriff and
bid in by H. Knowlton for $1,500, subject to a mortgage of $2,000
held by W. H. Merritt ; the power press alone was worth the $1,500.





226 tc






250 tc

45 tc

1,200 bbIs





After much tribulation tlie council finally paid James Rowan for the
market ground — $7,000 for the $10,000 owed him. On February
2, 1862, the mercury reached 28 and 30 degrees below zero on the
bluffs. In February the price of pork was the lowest in years —
$2.25 to $2.40 per cwt. In February it was rumored that the State
bank branch here would soon suspend specie payments. Everybody
welcomed the treasury note bill — it was expected to relieve the dis-
tressful local currency condition. Rouse & Williams operated iron
works, built engines, etc. Many shooting matches were held in
February. A grand musical service was held at the Julien theater,
mainly by Dubuque musicians. It ended with a grand tableau and
festival at St. John's Episcopal church, February 13. The new
Iowa banking law made Iowa State bank notes and United States
treasury notes receivable for taxes — the former only in case it did
not suspend specie payments. Another immense snowfall late in
February tied up hundreds of carloads of produce all over northern

Cooper & Smith in 1862 conducted a big plow and harrow factory
here. Early in 1862 the Legislature refused to repeal the prohib-
itory liquor law, though strongly urged to do so by Dubuque and
other river cities. Early in 1862 it was noted that the price of
pork was governed largely by successes and reverses on the battle-
field. McNutt was editor of the Times in February, 1862.

This law provided that on the affidavit of any person private
houses might be searched for liquors and the right of a change of
venue was cut off. "A greater outrage than this has never been
attempted in the most despotic countries on earth," said the Herald.

"Dubuque has never yet had the advantage of a prominent pork
packing establishment and the want of it has been a serious loss to
this city. Instead of packing every hog brought to this market for
sale, the great bulk of the pork is shipped either on foot or in the
carcass to Chicago or some other distant point. This city loses also
by its failure to manufacture lard, lard oil, stearine, etc. Instead
of grinding up all the wheat brought to this market this city is
scarcely more than a station on an accommodation railroad route." —
{Herald, February 19, 1862.)

The bill of 1862, which aimed to stop the manufacture and sale
of lager beer in Iowa, was vehemently denounced here by press and
mass meetings. Dimes, quarters and half dollars of zinc were thick
here in April. Nearly every business man had a few in reserve to
work off on his neighbor. There was great complaint against the
extortions of the Illinois Central Railway company in April, 1862;
it was even found advantageous to ship to Chicago via Prairie du
Chien. In June city scrip was down to 40 cents. Edward Everett
lectured here on "Hi.story of the Origin and Character of the War;"
he took the usual northern view and the Herald said, "Whatever
Mr. Everett believes we do not belie\e." In June, 1862, City Treas-


urer Guthrie announced the dehnquent tax of 1857 at $13,272.87;
interest on the same, $7,034.62. He announced that dehnquents
could pay in city scrip at 50 cents on the dollar. Immense quanti-
ties of wheat were conveyed to Dunleith by the ferry-boat and
barges in June. The Herald said in July that McGregor was a
better wheat market than Dubuque, owing to the lack of enterprise
and concert here. Sometimes as high as 700 wagons loaded with
wheat reached McGregor in a single day. It came from as far as
200 miles and lumber was cheaper there.

The Fourth of July, 1862, was generally celebrated all over
Dubuque county. At Dubuque the day was ushered in with a salute
of cannon and with the peals of bells. Major Brodtbeck was cliief
marshal. Everybody joined the parade. Rev. A. A. E. Taylor was
principal orator. Judge T. S. Wilson was president of the day.

Resolved, by the council, That the holders of all bonds known by
the name of short bonds, may have the ordinary evidence of claim,
i. e., city orders or scrip, issued them for the same by returning
them to the office of the auditor, who will cancel them and cause
slips to be issued for the same, for the amount of the original at
face named (less 10 per cent) and with 6 per cent interest thereon
from the date of said bonds." Adopted July 3, 1862.

Early in 1862 specie began wholly to disappear as it was steadily
overreaching in value all paper issues. A number of business men
made the attempt in July, 1862, to retire all small change then in
circulation and have the banks substitute therefor their own change
or scrip checks.

H. Markell & Co. and Babbage & Co., bankers, issued scrip about
July 15, 1862, as follows:

Dubuque, July 15, 1862.
Tzventy-Fivc Cents
Redeemable in United States or Iowa Currency in sums
of One Dollar, at the Banking Houses of H. Markell &
Co. and Babbage & Co.

Jno. Ware, Jr., Teller.
R. Scott, Teller.

"We are very sorry to know that these bits of paper are to drive
out what little silver change there is among us, but derive some con-
solation from the fact that it will not be a general system of plasters
— the tradesmen and merchants refraining from going into the busi-
ness while the bankers are prosecuting it. Undoubtedly great incon-
venience is felt from the scarcity of change but the prevention is


worse than the cure. Good-hye Httle lialf dime and soporific
quarter." — (Herald, July 17, 1862.)

In July, 1862, A. Heeb sliipped beer to Memphis, the river thereto
having been opened by Union gunboats and troops. By July, 1862,
the delinquent tax of 1858 was $29,822.33 ; interest, $12,527.97. In
1862 Rouse & Williams made iron columns for Dubuque and out-
side buildings; Woodworth's new brick block contained them. Peo-
ple hoarded silver and passed as soon as possible all paper received.
A new lot of city scrip was issued in August, 1862. The new frac-
tional currency of the government was anticipated in August with
much confidence. A floating planing mill — an ingenious contriv-
ance — was here in August doing work at the levee. Prof. O. S.
Fowler lectured on "Phrenology" in August. Owing to the enforced
absence of Mr. Mahony in August, 1862, Stilson Hutchins became
editor of the Herald. The Grand Lodge of Odd Fellows assembled
here October 22, 1862. W. P. Allen, of Dubuque, was elected
R. W. G. representative. In 1862-3 a new passenger depot for the
Dubuque and Sioux City line was built. In October, 1862, county
warrants were worth 80 cents on the dollar; school orders, 65
cents; city scrip, 40 cents; gold, 22 per cent premium selling. In
October, Welch Edwards appeared here with his theatrical troupe.

On September 30 and October i , 2 and 3 the State Fair was held
in Dubuque. The city and county ma'de donations of money to
secure this event. The city also at its own expense and that of the
leading business men enclosed the grounds, cleared the track, erected
the buildings. The local committee were Richard Bonson, E. R.
Shankland, Judge King, Solon M. Langworthy, W. C. Chamberlain,
H. S. Hetherington and Peter Melendy. The fair was a great
success, much to the credit of Dubuque.

"Awful. — Coal oil is up to 70 cents a gallon; potatoes to 50
cents a bushel; wood, $4 a cord; butter, 15 cents a pound; eggs, 12
cents a dozen ; shirting, 30 cents a yard ; cotton batting, 40 cents a
pound, and the end is not yet." — (Herald, October 30, 1862.)

Under the delinquency of 1858, 1859 and i860 a great deal of
land all over the county, even in the city of Dubuque, was sold for

Mr. Dorr, who held a mortgage on the Herald, foreclosed it and
took possession of the office in November, 1862. Stilson Hutchins
bought the office of the old Northicest and part of the office of the
old Dubuque Times and prepared to issue the Dubuque Democratic
Herald to take the place of the Herald of Mahony. By this time
there was no gold nor silver in circulation; there were sufficient
treasury notes for all ordinary purposes. The Dubuque skating
club was organized in December. For many years skating had
been the principal pastime during the winter months. A hog weigh-
ing 980 pounds came here from Monticello in December : it passed










on to Chicago. Ten acres of the cemetery were ordered laid off
into lots and streets at this date.

A committee of the council appointed to investigate the harbor
question reported at the January session, 1863, that in a short time
the harbor would be wholly unfit for landing purposes unless the
formation of the sandbars could be prevented ; that the bar was
caused by the filling up of the inner slough at the Third street
bridge ; that the Third street bridge should be removed or extended
in one span over the whole slough and that the right of the city to
remove such bridge which had been built by the Central Improve-
ment Company was in doubt.

On the loth of September, 1853, the city of Dubuque executed
to F. S. Jesup a deed of trust on the Central island to secure a large
amount of indebtedness, say about $30,000. On October 24, 1856.
the city also executed to W. W. Corcoran a mortgage on Central
island, with other lands, to secure the payment of $100,000, payable
at New York, May i, 1876. The Jesup trust was not acknowl-
edged, so far as the records showed. On March 20, 1857, the city
contracted with J. P. Farley and others known as the Central Island
Improvement Company to convey the said island to said company
in consideration that the company should assume the indebtedness
of the city to Corcoran and Jesup. The company thus assumed
such indebtedness and on October 19, 1859, the city executed a deed
of Central island to the Central Improvement Company by which
the city conveyed all the right it then had or might afterwards have
in the island and the beds of sloughs with the right to fill or dredge
the same. On March 3, i860. Congress granted to the city all the
title of the state of Iowa to the sloughs and beds of sloughs within
the said property. Whatever right this act conferred upon the city
would thus inure to the benefit of the Improvement Company
under the prior act. On March 14, 1859, in consideration of a
release from the indebtedness before assumed, amounting without
interest to $120,000, the company made a contract with the city by
which the company reconveyed to the city every third lot of the lots
into which the island was laid out. In this contract the company
obligated itself to pave a levee on the main channel of the Missis-
sippi river along the entire front of the island and to have the work
done by January i, 1861 ; also to fill and grade Second and Fourth
streets from the east line of lots of the old town of Dubuque not
less than forty feet wide with proper slopes for embankments and
to have Second street finished by January i, 1862, and Fourth street
by January i, 1863. These conditions were never fulfilled, nor the
work of paving or grading the streets ever commenced. This con-
tract was never signed by the city, but the company claimed the
contract to be valid, inasmuch as the company signed it and made
the conveyance to the city of the said lots and the conveyance was
afterward accepted by the city by resolution. By January i, 1863,


the incumbrances on the island were far beyond its then actual
value. There was the indebtedness of $120,000 and interest for
several years and a county tax of $6,447.31 from 1857 to 1861
inclusive. In addition there was the city ta.x due and unpaid.

On January i, 1863, tlie office of city auditor was declared vacant,
that official having been absent for a long time and neglected his
duties. On January 9 about 250 wagons of pork were here at one
time. On another day 100 wagon loads of firewood were on the
streets; wood was worth $4.50 and $5, much higher tlian usual.
George Francis Train lectured here January 17 on "English Shams:
American Realities." John G. Armstrong, of Dubuque, formed a
business connection with liim and took the road. The printers had
a big festival on Franklin's birthday. During 1862 and much of
1863 there was a great scarcity of small change; small packages of
postage stamps were used — 5, 10 and 25-cent packages. There was
a great drouth in January, so that water haulers were employed to
fill the city cisterns to be in readiness for fires. January, 1863, was
very mild, so that ferry boats ran as regularly as in summer. In
January live hogs were worth only $2.90 to $3.25 ; wheat, 95 cents
to $1 ; beef cattle on the hoof, $1.75 to $2.25, and whisky was going
up, notwithstanding the efforts of most men to put it down. The
Democrats here called the fractional currency "Chase's shinplasters."
Immense quantities of ice were put up in 1862-3, George Zumhoff
alone storing 45,000 tons.

Early in January, 1863, Dubuque was shut off for a week from
the outside by the deep snow and intense cold. Many domestic
animals throughout the county perished. About this time $50,000
was offered for Kelly's bluff, but the eccentric owner refused to sell.
James Burt was president of the skating club. Treasury notes on
March 2 were at a small premium on 'change, city short bonds were
worth 45 cents ; county, warrants, 97^ cents ; Iowa state warrants,
98 cents; quartermaster's vouchers, 90 cents. In February green-
backs were here in abundance and were accepted by all business
houses and farmers. In February all prices began to advance in
leaps and bounds. The Herald seemed to lose no opportunity to
denounce the branch of the State Bank. Gold ran up to about
$1.70 here, but soon fell to $1.45. Early in 1863 Professor
Lascelles and his assistants gave their series of grand concerts at the
Julien theater; parts of the performance were "Blue Beard," "The
Ship on Fire," "The Spirit of the Storm," "St. Patrick's Day," etc.
The press declared this to be the grandest musical event ever in
Dubuque up to that date. "The Lascelles third concert was
attended by a large audience, which testified almost breathlessly to
the rare and beautiful music. Mrs. Lascelles possessed a soprano
voice of rare sweetness and compass, and Miss Anna Lascelles cap-
tured the audience with her Yankee songs. Mr. Lascelles played


and sang with a power and sweetness never approached on a stage
in Dubuque.

A special committee, consisting of Aldermen Quigley, Mason and
Matthews, found that the indebtedness of the city of Dubuque on
March i, 1863, was as follows:

Outstanding coupon bonds $ 682,000.00

Interest due March i, i860 76,253.36

Interest due March i, 1863 204,600.00

Interest on short bonds, $97,000 22,050.00

Outstanding short bonds, March i, 1863 48,800.00

City currency and scrip out 16,047.30

Due Rowan for central market 3,500.00

Due Harbor Company for repairs 3,951.61

Other debts and judgments 7,250.00

Total $1,064,452.27

The amount of bonds issued by the city for railroad purposes:
Dubuque & Sioux City Railway Company, $200,000 ; Dubuque &
Western Railway Company, $250,000. The Gelpeke Company
brought suit to recover interest on the railway bonds for over three
years. The county was interested to the extent of $200,000, which
it voted the Dubuque & Sioux City Railway Company.

By the recent supreme court decision both city and county now
had to pay up. This sad fact caused people to be despondent.
War claims added to the crushing burden; yet in spite of all the
city and county were prosperous owing to the flush of war.

In March, 1863, the air was dark with countless myriads of wild
pigeons on many days. There was a big strike on the newspapers
late in March, 1863; half sheets were issued. In the end the union
which demanded better wages was forced to give up the fight.

In 1861-2 there were packed in Dubuque 8,315 hogs; in 1862-3,
13,285. In the latter year Burlington, Des Moines, Farmington,
Fort Madison, Keokuk, Muscatine and Ottumwa packed more than
Dubuque — a few three or four times as many.

In 1863 the mail distributing office was removed from Dubuque,
which act was believed to be due to the opposition to the war shown
here. John Hodnett had been and was yet connected with the
Herald. D. A. Mahony and Stilson Hutchins conducted in the
Herald one of the ablest papers in the West; they assailed the Lin-
coln administration with ability, vigor and severity. The council
in May declared cottonwood trees a nuisance and ordered them cut
from city lots, streets, etc. A. Schaefle conducted a book bindery
here in 1863.

Dubuque county warrants were at par June 8, 1863. A
Sylvester's patent grain separator was the invention of a Dubuque


man. A dispute between the saloons and breweries was settled in
May, 1863, by fixing $9 as the price of a barrel ; elsewhere the price
was $10. On June i, 1863, Assessor Kniest reported in Dubuque
2,719 dwellings; families, 1,600; males, 5.998; females, 6,628;
total population, 12,626; voters, 2,409; colored population, 65.
Dubuque real estate was assessed at $1,893,000; personalty,
$867,434. In a horse race at Bee Town between Kitty Clyde and
a Bee Town horse for a stated purse of $700 a side, distance 500
yards, the horse won by four and one-half feet; it was said that
over $8,000 changed hands as the result of the race; $100 green-
back bills were numerous. On June i, 1863, the Times was
enlarged to eight columns. About this time the Chicago Times was
suppressed by order of the military authorities, but after a few days
was permitted to continue. D. N. Cooley, agent, called for the
federal ta.x in June and announced that it must be paid within ten
days or a 10 per cent penalty would be added. The board of trade
was again organized in June; it issued for a while the Commercial
Reporter. Every cistern in the city was dry in June ; water haulers
did a big business — 15 to 20 cents below, and 25 to 35 cents per
barrel above the bluffs.

"A Game of Ball. — The Fourth ward recently challenged the
Third ward to try a star game of baseball for the championship
belt. An enormous set-to came off lately between the clubs of the
several wards. ... A very exciting and astonishing game was
played. The Third ward after two hours threw up the sponge and
the Fourth ward were proclaimed victorious." — (Herald. June 9,

The "Up-town" club and the "Down-town" club were pitted
against each other. In the former were Markell, Root, Cox,
Blatchley, Bates, J. Ware, C. Ware, Donaha and Perigo, and in the
latter W. Mills, N. Mills, Waples, Lewis, Bugh, Morgan, Pinto,
Potter and Coyle. The "Up-town" won in July at the race track.

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 16 of 56)