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 4 of 56)
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after his death they kept a fire burning upon his grave and watched
it by day and night. Pierre Chouteau, Jr., one of your petitioners,
having been repeatedly urged by Dubuque to join him in business
on the land aforesaid, left St. Louis in the spring of the year 1810
for the residence of Dubuque, where he intended to remain for some
years at least. Upon his arrival he found that Dubuque had departed
this life some few weeks before. Dubuque often spoke to the
Indians of the expected arrival of his friend, the said Chouteau, and
a short time before his death enjoined it upon them, as your peti-
tioners are informed and believe, to receive and treat him as a friend.
The chief of the said nation received the said Chouteau w'th every
demonstration of respect and kindness, and informed him that it


was tlic request of Dubuque that he should take possession of his
property and occupy his liouse. In compHance with that request
the said chief gave to the said Chouteau the immeihate possession
of the home formerly occupied by Dubuque. He had frequent
conversations with the chiefs of the said nation relative to the
claim of Dubuque to the said tract of land and was informed by
them that lie (Dubuque) was entitled to the same. The said
Chouteau did not remain all the time upon the said land after his
arrival in 1810, but continued to do business there until the com-
mencement of the war of 1812, when he returned to St. Louis.
After the death of Dubuque, Augtist Chouteau qualified as his
administrator and as such obtained an order from the probate court
of St. Charles county, in the Territory of Missouri, to sell the
interest of Dubuque in said lands for the payment of debts. The
land was divided by the administrator into lots or parcels and sold
under the order aforesaid, when John P. Cobanne, Pierre Chou-
teau, Jr., William Russell and others became the purchasers.

"Shortly after the treaty between the Sacs and Foxes and the
United States, concluded on the 21st of September, 1832 (by which
the former ceded to the United States a large tract of country,
within tiie limits of which the Dubuque tract of land now claimed
is situated), your petitioners took possession of such land and pro-
ceeded to erect houses upon and occupy the same in like manner
as lands claimed under similar titles have always been occupied
and held in the country ceded by France to the United States and
believed that they were under the protection of the law in so doing,
and that the government of the United States would not disturb
them until it was ascertained that their title was invalid, or at any
rate, until some provision should be made for testing its validity.
But so far from doing this the extraordinary spectacle was exhibited
of an ejectment by military force under an order of the secretary
of war."

William Wirt, attorney general of the United States, expressed
the opinion, February 14. 1825, concerning the removal by force
of Mr. Henderson, one of the claimants under the Spanish title,
"that it is not competent to the executive to remove him (Hender-
son) by force under the Act of March 3. 1807, 'to prevent settle-
ments being made on lands ceded to the United States until author-
ized by law.' "

"By the treaty of September 21, 1832, the Indians sold to the
United States only such land as was 'right fully claimed bx them,'
for as they, at the treaty of November 3, 1804, did not only disclaim
the ownership, but expressly recognize the Dubuque claim as a
valid Spanish grant (the possession of which was then in Dubuque),
tlie United States acquired no title to that tract of land bv tlie
treaty aforesaid. Your ])etitioners having taken possession of said
land under and by \'irtue of a grant from tlie Si)anish go\-ernment,


were not intruders upon tlie public lands and ought not to have
been so regarded and treated by the secretary of war" (see Senate
Documents, 29th Congress, 2d session. Vol III, No. 218).

Finally, the Senate committee "are fully satisfied that justice
demands that the report of the board of commissioners aforesaid
should be approved and that the title to the said tract of land
should be confirmed by the United States to the said Julien
Dubuque, his heirs, assignees, or legal representatives; and in con-
formity to these views they have reported a bill and recommended
its passage." (March 3, 1847, see No. 218, Senate Documents,
29th Congress, 2d session. Vol. III).

The Senate committee on public lands, on July i, 1842, "thought
it very obvious that the grant, permit, or concession, by whatever
name it may be called of the Indians in council to Dubuque, was
never intended by either of the parties to give any greater interest
in the land or mines to Dubuque than a mere personal permit or
privilege of working the mines as long as he pleased and of leaving
them whenever he should think proper."

Tliey therefore concluded that the government preemption laws
should apply to the Dubuque tract. In other words that settlers
could preempt land there as on other land owned by the United
States. (Senate Documents, Vol. V, 27th Congress, 2d session,
No. 341.)

The House of Representatives committee on public lands reported
that they felt "assured that the Indians considered the privilege
granted by them to Julien Dubuque as a personal privilege, from
the fact that, as early as the year 1830, and previous to the cession
by treaty of the land called the 'Black Hawk Purchase' to the
United States (and which includes this tract of land) and while
all of what is now comprised within the limits of the territory of
Iowa belonged to the Indian tribes, divers persons crossed the
Mississippi river and commenced mining upon this tract of land
(the Dubuque claim) ; which occupancy was resisted and com-
plained of by the Indians, and upon proper representations being
made the government sent a military force to expel such persons,
which was accomplished ; and said military force was then sta-
tioned at the place where now stands the town of Dubuque. After
the making of the treaty of September 21, 1832 (the Black Hawk
Purchase), and previous to the ratification thereof, the whites again
crossed the river and commenced mining and making gardens in
the vicinity of what is now the town of Dubuque. By the said
treaty it was stipulated that the Indians were to retain possession
of the lands so ceded until the ist of June, 1833. To keep which
stipulation inviolate the government again sent a military force
to expel its citizens, which was as far as practicable effected ; and
that after the due ratification of the said treaty, to-wit : On the
1st day of June, 1833, said military force was withdrawn, and the


settlers were permitted, eneoitnujed and iirriled Ijy the government
to occupy said tract of land under the government." ( See H. R.
Docs., 27th Congress, 2d session. No. 894.)

Those who petitioned Congress regarding the Dubuque claim
and title in 1835-6 were Elizabeth Mullanphy, Octavia Mullanphy,
Ann Biddle, Mary Harney, William S. Harney, Bryan Mullanphy,
James Clemens, Jr., Eliza Clemens, R. Graham, Catherine Graham,
Charles Chambers, Jane M. Chambers, Cerre Chouteau (in her own
right and as executrix of Auguste Chouteau, deceased). E. Chou-
teau, Henry Chouteau, Gabriel S. Chouteau, Aug'te P. Chouteau
(by Pr. Chouteau, Jr.. attorney in fact). They had been dispos-
sessed of their property under this claim and asked to be restored to
the possession of their property until the title should be adjudicated.

In 1842 the citizens who had settled upon the Dubuque claim
petitioned Congress to the following effect : That they had settled
there after June 6, 1833, and were therefore entitled to the privi-
leges granted by the preemption laws; that the privilege of making
proof and payment for their homes under such laws was denied them
by the register and receiver at Dubuque on the ground that the tract
was reserved from sale as shown by a letter from the commissioner
of the general land office dated April 4, 1839. The House com-
mittee of Congress took the position "that the privilege given to
Julien Dubuque by the Indian tribes was the mere personal privilege
of hunting, mining, smelting, fishing, etc., within certain limits
(twenty-one miles front upon the Alississippi river by nine miles
in depth) and was not intended to convey to him any further right
or privilege." The committee showed that the government had
"not only on all proper occasions heretofore denied the validity of
such claim, but has since purchased this same tract of land from
the Indians by treaty dated September 21, 1832, at Rock Island,
and given through its agents to the settlers written permission to
reside on and occupy said tract of land and to work at the mines
thereon, to erect houses for their protection and enclose gardens for
the support of the settlers, they paying to the agents of the United
States for the benefit of the E'nited States, certain proportions of the
amount of mineral raised or lead ore smelted by them." For these
and other reasons the committee reported a bill in favor of the
relief prayed for by the petitioners.

The Miners' Express of July 2S, 1842. contained the report of
the committee on public lands in the United States Senate, to whom
was referred a bill extending the right of preemption to settlers,
etc., on the Dubuque claim, denying the validity of the claim, which
was accompanied by a bill providing that settlers might enter tiieir
lands as if no claim existed ; that patents issued for lands so entered
should be considered as a relinquishment of the title of the United
States to the land; but, if, at any future time the claim should be
declared valid by a proper tribunal and the patentee should be


lawfully ejected, the purchase money should be refunded to the

Much land in the county was unentered previous to March, 1847,
owing to the Duliuque claim, but at this date Congress removed
the ditficultv and ihe land was thrown into market.

Iowa, in the language of the Indians, means "the beautiful land."
What is now Dubuque county was seen first by wlute men in 1673;
in that year Joliet and Marquette passed down the Mississippi and
may have landed in this county. Joliet was sent out on an expedi-
tion to find the "great river" and a water route to the Soutli Sea,
as the Pacific ocean was then called, and Marquette was chosen to
accompany him. The latter called the Mississippi "La Conception."
Later La Salle called it "Colbert." In 1788 the Fox Indians pos-
sessed the soil, the lands of the Sacs being farther down the river.
In 1836-7 Congress ordered the town of Dubuque surveyed and
platted, but this act did not remove the claim of Dubuque's heirs
and for many years the land was kept out of market on this
account. In Congress a strong delegation worked persistently in
favor of the Dubuque-Chouteau claim.

"Afterward when the lands were ordered to be sold and the
proclamation of sale duly made, and when Iowa was unrepresented
in that body, the United States Senate passed a resolution request-
ing a withdrawal of the land from sale. This startled our people
and Messrs. Hastings and Leffler, our representatives in Congress,
were interviewed. They called upon the President and learned
that the act of the Senate could not be disregarded ; but they
learned that if the House should pass a resolution ordering the sale,
it would proceed. Mr. Hastings accordingly presented such a reso-
lution in the House, whereupon a Missouri member violently pro-
tested against it and raised such a commotion that when the vote
was taken it was difficult to decide whether it was passed or not.
The clerk thought it was lost and so entered it on his memorandum.
At the adjournment Mr. Hastings (familiarly known as 'Old Red')
went to him for a copy of the resolution. The clerk replied : T
thought the resolution failed to pass.' He replied. 'No, sir. give me
a certified copy to be handed to the President.' The clerk did so,
the copy was presented to the President and the sale proceeded.
This act of Mr. Hastings was one of more benefit to our city and
county than any other single act in the history of our legislation.
Had that sale not taken place at that time, it might ne\Tr have taken
^lace, for the claim of Chouteau might have been confirmed by
Congress and this confirmation would have depopulated the eastern
half of this county, or if the sale had ever been made it would
have been after years of delay, fraught with destruction to the
prosperity of our city and county. After the public sale Mr. Chou-
teau brought a suit against Mr. P. Maloney, one of our worthy
citizens, to test the validity of his title, and the decision before


releired to was made by the United States Supreme court. Another
temporary incubus upon tlie prosperity of our city and county was
the attempt to take the mineral leads from our early miners by
pretended government agents, who claimed to have authority to lease
these lands. Certain adventurers procured such appointments and
granted to their own secret agents and tools, leases of rich lodes
discovered after much labor and expense by such men as Richard
and Robert Waller, the Langworthys, Antoine Loire and many
others and these pretended agents asked the judge here for an
injunction to prevent all working of our mines without a license
from him. The judge decided that the law authorizing this leasing
did not apply to Iowa, whereupon the secretary of war, Mr. Spencer,
wrote to the judge to prepare himself for a removal from office for
the reason that the law did apply to that part of Iowa which was
east of the Mississippi. Daniel Webster hearing of this, called
upon Mr. Spencer, gave him a short lesson in geography and the
judge was not removed." — (Judge Thomas S. Wilson in Herald
of September 4, 1883).

Comparatively little is known of Dubuque during the twenty-one
years' residence here. So far as known no portrait of him is in
existence; all such are purely imaginary and should have no place
in history. Neither is it known that he had an Indian wife. Elipha-
let Price, an early settler near here, said that one of Dubuque's
employes told him that Dubuque had no Indian wife. If he had
one what became of her after his death? If there were any children
what became of them? Would not the wife and children have
claimed his estate here and elsewhere? Not the slightest trace of
them has ever been found. — (See Judge T. S. Wilson in Herald,
February 6, 1887). Peosta was a Fox chief and a warrior of the
Kettle Chief's Tribe. The name Peseta usually bestowed upon
Dubuque's alleged Indian wife, seems to be a distortion of Peosta.
Dubuque and nine other Frenchmen, it is said, came here in 1788.
It would be interesting to know who his white companions were,
how long they remained, the terms upon which they worked for
him, etc. Dubuque wrote his name as it is now written ; he did not
use a capital B. In French the name is written Debuc. — (See
Herald, January 8, 1866.) At his death Dubuque was concealed
on the bluff where his monument now stands ; his body was placed
in a cave. In 1823 when this cave was opened, Mr. Langworthy,
who was present, said the skeleton was yet there with the hat still
on the head or skull. — (Miners' Express, September 18, 1850). It
is said that the Indians for many years kept a fire burning at the
cave or grave. His Indian name was "La Petit Nuit." The Great
W'ashington of the Foxes, Kettle Chief, was buried on the same
mound. On the cross at the grave is the following inscription in
French. "Julien Dubuque Mineure De La Mine D'Espagne, Moret
Le 24 Marse, 1810; Agee 45^4 anne." — (Translation: Julien


Dubuque, Miner of the Mines of Spain, died the 24th of March,
18 10, aged 45 years and 6 months). Dubuque was thus a young
man when he came here — about twenty-four years old.

Dubuque was a Frencli Canadian born in the Province of Quebec,
January 10, 1762, and was a mineralogist. At the age of twenty-
two years he settled near Prairie du Chien and soon learned of the
lead ore near the mouth of Catfish creek, where the Kettle Chief's
village was located, containing about four hundred Indians. In
1788 he secured the right to work the mines. He opened stores,
built smelting furnaces, bought furs, built liouses and horse mills,
opened gardens and farms, sold or traded goods and mined lead for
market. From time to time he had Frenchmen to assist him and
no doubt also Indian women and old men. He was doubtless good
to the Indians, treated them fairly, taught them how to secure many
comforts and become strong and it was no wonder they loved,
respected and obeyed him. Twice a year he took a boat load of
lead ore, furs and hides to St. Louis and returned with fresh goods,
money and supplies of food, clothing and ammunition. The inscrip-
tion on his grave, or cross, says that he died March 24, 1810, aged
forty-five years and six months ; if so, he was born about September,
1764, instead of the date given above.

A new impetus was given to the growth of Dubuque by the final
settlement of the Dubuque claim. This settlement was practically
made by Congress in 1846-7. The President by proclamation adver-
tised the lands for sale, whereupon the Senate presented a resolution
asking for a postponement of the sale, but this was prevented by
an Iowa member, who asked that there be no postponement unless
upon petition of the settlers. This passed and was sanctioned by
the President. Previous to 1846-7 all titles at Dubuque were con-
sidered uncertain. Many pioneers refused to settle here. All who
settled prepared their affairs so as to meet the Dubuque claims in
case his heirs won. Dubuque was thus crippled for years. In 1847
the growth was large as a consequence of the Congressional act of
1846-7. Over 150 buildings were erected in Dubuque from March
I, 1847, to December i ; a majority were brick.

When the case of Chouteau vs. Maloney (the Dubuque claim
case) was called in the Supreme court of the United States in
December, 1853, every member of the Iowa delegation in Congress
was present. The case was concluded in January, 1854. Judge
Thomas S. Wilson, of Dubuque, first addressed the Court and
upheld the views of Albert Gallatin. He was followed by Mr.
Carmack, who assailed the views of Gallatin and upheld the justice
of the old Senate committee report. Piatt Smith spoke, as did
Judge Wilson ; so did Attorney General Gushing. The whole Pierce
administration favored the Iowa contention. Briefly the points
made by Judge Wilson were as follows: i. The Indians could
not and did not sell the land, as it belonged to Spain. 2. Dubuque


had only peaceable possession and not full proprietorship. 3. The
bounds were indefinite. 4. Carondelet only gave permission to
work the mines, as his language was not such as was usually used
in making land grants, and no process verbal nor order of survey
accompanied his order. 5. Carondelet had no authority to make
such a sale or grant. 6. If Carondelet had such power, he could
gi\-e only an inchoate and imperfect title — one that would avail
nothing in a court of law. 7. There must be a compliance with
Spanish law and there was not in this case, and therefore no sale
was meant. 8. The land was acquired from France in 1803 and
from the Indians in 1832; Congress had authorized the sale to the
settlers, had recognized their preemption rights and had given them
patents to their tracts of land; would the government now reverse
all this, and exclude the thousands of settlers? Justice Wayne
delivered the unanimous opinion of the Supreme court in favor of
the settlers. On February 28, 1854, there was received here a
telegram that the Dubuque case had been decided in fa\or of Iowa.
Immediately an impromptu celebration was held ; the cannon was
fired, bells were rung and all congratulated each other on the out-
come and the good news. Thus at last this vexatious case was
settled forever.

Dubuque county has little Indian history, because the tribes were
removed before the arrival of the pioneers. The early settlers
found the usual artificial mounds which doubtless were thrown up
by the Indians and not by the Mound Builders proper. Several of
these mounds stood originally where Dubuque's monument now
stands. "One opened in Dubuque county disclosed a vault di\-ided
into three cells. In the center one were found eight skeletons sitting
in a circle and in the center of the group was a drinking vessel
made from a sea shell. The whole chamber was covered with logs
preserved in cement." One mile northeast of Dyers\ille, on section
29, township 89 north, range 2 west, were formerly a group of
Indian mounds — nine in all, seven circular and two embankments.

Originally the Dakota family of Indians possessed what is now
Iowa. In this family were the Iowa, Omaha, Winnebago, Mascou-
tin, Otoe, Sisseton and other tribes. Farther south were the Illinois,
Fox, Chippewa, Attouays, Pottawattomie and other tribes of the
great Algonquin family. In the fierce wars between the two fami-
lies the Sacs and Foxes gained possession of what is now Dubuque
county and were found here by the first white men. Dubuque
secured his grant from the Foxes, and lived with them until his
death. A large Fox village of sixty to seventy bark and log dwell-
ings stood on the present site of Dubuque, and nearby in the valley
were the Indian corn, bean and pumpkin fields. Before the whites
came, the Sioux, it is related, were attacked on the bluff about
two hundred yards below the mouth of Catfish creek, on the first
bluff below the one on which stands Dubuque's monument, by a


large band of Sacs and Foxes. In the rush they endeavored to drive
the mounted Sioux over the bluff. Many were forced over the
steep bank and the Sioux were defeated in the end. As a proof of
this battle the first settlers found at the bottom of the bluff, on the
east side, many Indian skeletons, more or less disjointed, scattered
around for a considerable distance. Bones of Indians and horses
could be seen there as late as twenty or thirty years ago. During the
fight, it is related, a Sioux leaped his horse down the north side,
which was not so steep, and escaped, from that circumstance the
bluff has been known as Horse Bluff. The date of this battle is
not known, but was before August 19, 1825, at which date a treaty
removed the Sioux permanently farther northward. The Horse
Shoe Bluff there is named from the shape of the small valley.

In 1832 the Sacs, Foxes and Winnebagoes ceded a large tract,
including Dubuque county, to the United States government for the
consideration of $20,000 per annum for thirty years ; $50,000 to
be paid to Indian traders; 6,000 bushels of corn, fifty barrels of
flour; thirty barrels of pork; thirty-beef cattle, and twelve bushels
of salt.

Late in May, 1838, a few wandering and dissipated Winnebago
Indians came down the river and camped on an island opposite the
lower end of town. A night or two later a few roughs from
Dubuc|ue went there for dishonorable purposes and were resisted
by the braves and squaws, during which a squaw was mortally
wounded. She was buried by the people of Dubuque and the
roughs were pursued and punished. Several were wounded in the
struggle. One of the roughs escaped. Joseph Ducoste, who was
charged with the murder of the squaw, Se-a-co, broke jail at
Dubuque in June, 1838, and Sheriff Cummings offered a reward of
$50 for his arrest.

"Indians About. — A company of about forty Indians of the
Pottawattomie tribe were encamped at Table Mound, near this city,
during last week. We understand they were a little amusing to the
people in that neighborhood. In a drunken frolic they had three
of their horses killed. Those that visited the city were fine looking,
well-dressed Indians." — (Miners' Express, June 6, 1849.)

"We were amused at the antics of a party of Pottawattomie
Indians who were allowed to ride backwards on the tender. They
evidently thought it great sport as they whooped and hallooed until
they rivaled the neigh of the iron steed. But the shriek of that
animal evidently took them down some — or up rather, as one fellow
jumped three feet into the air when the engineer let the whistle
loose." — E. &- H., June 4, 1855).

CITY OF DUBUQUE, 1788 TO 1849.

SO FAR as known, Julien Dubuque and his French companions

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 4 of 56)