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 46 of 56)
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vided that poorhouses could be buih by counties. In the fall of
1842 the county board were William Smith, Jacob Dreibelbis and
F. Byerly : Nightingale was still clerk. New road districts were
formed throughout the county in April, 1842 — thirteen in all. In
1842 the board borrowed in small sums, from more than si.xty per-
sons, $1,175 o" which it agreed to pay interest. In June, 1842,
William Carter furnished timber for the new county jail being
erected. It would seem that the jail was built by private sub-
scription. (See second June term of the board, 1842). Amos
Matthews plastered the new court house, finishing in 1842. Two
floors in the court house were paved with brick by Rogers & An-
son. Small sums were borrowed to be used in building the jail.
A tax of $1 on each $100 was ordered levied in 1842; also a poll
tax of $1. Samuel L. Clifton furnished rock for the new jail in
1842. Large numbers of Irish were coming to this county at this
time. There were the O'Haires, the O'Sheas, the O'Donnells and
O'Haras; the O'Sullivans, O'Bleas, O'Flynns and O'Maras; the
O'Briens. O'Rourkes, O'Glasses and O'Darrells : the O'Reagans,
O'Kellys, O'Tooles and O'Farralls.

The territorial legislature of 1841-2 passed an act giving the
county board authority to divide the county into townships as soon
as they were of the opinion that a majority of the people desired it.
Accordingly, on February 7, 1843, ten townships were created, as
follows : Julien, Jefiferson, Concord, Liberty, Iowa, Center, Cas-
cade, Clinton, Washington and Mosalem. Julien township was
bounded east by the Mississippi, Dubuque and the prolonged line
between ranges i and 2 east ; north by prolonged line between sec-
tions 18 and 7, township 89 north; west by the prolonged line be-
tween sections 14 and 15, township 89 north, range i east; south
by the prolonged line between sections 23 and 26, township 88
north, range i east. It embraced parts of the present Julien, Du-
buque, Center, Vernon, Table Mound and Mosalem townships.
Jefferson was bounded east by the Mississippi ; north by the Missis-
sippi ; west by the prolonged hue between sections 10 and 11, town-
ship 89 north, range i east; south by the prolonged line between
sections 1 1 and 14, township 89 north, range i east. It included
all of the present Peru township and parts of the present Jefiferson,
Center and Dubuque townships. Concord township was bounded
east by the prolonged line between sections 10 and 11, township 89
north, range i east ; south by the prolonged line between sections
10 and 15, township 89 north, range i east; west by the prolonged
line between sections 8 and 9, township 89 north, range i west ;
north by the county line and the river and the fifth meridian. This
embraced parts of the present townships of Jefferson, Concord,
Iowa and Center. Liberty was bounded north and west by the


county line, south by the prolonged line between sections 8 and 9.
township 89 north, range i west, and east by Concord township.
Iowa township was bounded north by Liberty, west b)' the county
line, south by the prolonged line between sections 20 and 29. town-
ship 88 north, range i west, and east by the prolonged line between
sections 20 and 21. township 88 north, range i west. Center
township was bounded east by Julien. north by Jefferson, west by
Iowa, and south by the prolonged line between sections 21 and 28,
townsliip 88 north, range i west. Cascade townsliip was bounded
north by Iowa, west by the county line, soutli by the county line
and east by the prolonged line between sections 28 and 29, township
88 north, range i west. Clinton township was bounded north by
Center, west by Iowa, south by the county line and east by the pro-
longed line between sections 26 and 2~. township 88 north, range
I east. Washington township was bounded north by Julien, west
by Clinton, south by the county line and east by the prolonged line
dividing ranges i and 2 east. Mosalem township was bounded east
b}' the Mississippi, south by the county line, west by the line between
ranges i and 2 east, and north by Julien or Dubuque city.

The county clerk notified the citizens of each of the above town-
ships to assemble and organize.

During 1843, the county jail was built. It was constructed by
the county board, the materials being secured under special con-

Solomon Asby was authorized in April, 1843, '^o keep a ferry
across the Mississippi opposite Potosi, Wisconsin Territory. In
1843 the board viewed and built many roads in all parts of the
county. The jail was finished in 1843. The sum of $5 was
charged for use of the court room for all shows for profit. Hiram
Welds was authorized to keep a ferry over the Mississippi two
miles above Parson's ferry, Dubuque county, in 1844. Jonathan
Higgins became county commissioner in 1843 ■ Smith and Byerly
were the others.

In 1843, Dr. John O'Brien was paid for holding an inquest on
the body of Haw-Kaw-Kaw, a Winnebago Indian. This year
George W. Cummins took to the penitentiary the Indian, Waw-
kon-shon-ne-kaw. who had been convicted here for murder, on a
change of venue. Ore of lead on i6th sections was worked on
shares under the supervision of the county board.

In February. 1843, a road was ordered surveyed from Cascade to
Olmstead's Mill, in Delaware county. The act of February 17,
1843, definitely fi.xed the boundaries of the counties which had
been severed from Dubuque county. A proclamation of President
Van Buren, May 4, 1840, ordered a land sale in the western and
southern parts of the coimty : this sale was postponed. In February,
1843. President Tyler ordered a sale of lands in this county.

The returns of the secretary of state showed a population of


4,059 for Dubuque county in June, 1844. About this time sub-
stantial county bridges were constructed over the Catfish, Little
Maquoketa and other streams. John Barney, agent of the United
States, was at work on the Dubuque harbor. By proclamation of
October 8, 1844, President Tyler ordered township 87, range i
west, (Cascade) thrown into market January 13, 1845; the sale
was to be kept open for two weeks.

In 1844, the county commissioners of Dubuque county, Iowa
Territory, memorialized Congress to grant to the city certain lands,
as follows: "Two lots and a half of ground in the town of Du-
buque, on the northwest corner of Seventeenth and Locust streets,
upon which the public square was at one time laid off and a tempor-
ary jail erected thereon ; that said parcel or parcels of land were
in the year 1835 donated to the county of Dubuque by Peter A.
Lorimier, Esq., the original claimant under the settlers' regulations ;
but that the said public square has since been removed and more
permanent public buildings erected elsewhere in said town. The
petitioners now ask that as the county of Dubuque is the equitable
claimant of said lots, and is the owner of the beforementioned
temporary buildings erected thereon, a law may be passed giving
our county a title to the same and authorizing the commissioners,
as the constituted authority of the county, to make sale thereof."
The senate committee found "that Congress, by its acts of July 2,
1836, and the supplement thereto, passed March 3, 1837, have di-
rected that the quantity of 640 acres of land, embracing the town of
Dubuque, be laid off into lots, streets, avenues, etc. ; that the lots
be classed and preemption rights granted to all such persons as had,
by building or enclosure, improved said lots prior to July 2, 1836,
and the residue exposed to public sale. The entire proceeds arising
from the sale of these lots, as well from preemptions as at public
sale, after deducting some incidental expenses, would be paid over
to the trustees or other authorities of said town, to be expended by
them in the improvement of streets, wharves, etc." The com-
mittee reported in favor of a bill. — (See House Reports, No. 351,
28th Aug., 1st session, Vol. I.)

On January i, 1845, the balance against the county was $10,-
410.73. .The balance against the county on January i, 1844, was
$9,134.68, of which $5,273.66 was in notes given for court house

On January i, 1845, there were outstanding $6,354.58 in county
bonds. "The secretary of the treasury has been addressed by the
commissioners requesting that the funds heretofore advanced by the
county for the pay of jurors, witnesses, fuel, stationery, etc., for the
District court during a period of five years, be refunded; it amounts
to near $3,000, and during the past year the department has decided
that the pay of jurors, etc., as above are proper charges upon the


United States." — (Statement of county commissioners, February
26, 1845.)

In the spring of 1845, ^'i^ following mail routes were established:
Dubucjue to Bloomington via Garryowan, Lodge's Ford, and
Thomas Mills; Dubuque to Ft. Atkinson via Ead's settlement and
Moreland's colony : Dubuque to Iowa City via Cascade and Marion
in two-horse coaches; Dubuque to the county seats of Delaware
and Buchanan counties.

The county commissioners, in 1846, were William Smith, Jon-
athan Higgins and Michael W. Power. James R. Thompson was
sheriff. In January, 1846, the board were asked to assist the city
of Dubuque to build a hospital, but deferred action until they could
learn whether the county sick persons would be admitted and upon
what terms.

In 1846 tiie Fairfield Land District contained 10,396,160 acres
and the Dubuque Land District 13,200,000 acres. An additional
land district was created with office at Des Moines. — (House Re-
ports, No. 677, 29th Cong. 1st session. Vol. III.)

For the fiscal year commencing February 22, 1847, and ending
February 23, 1848, there was against the county at tlie beginning,
$9,370.24; paupers cost $2,276.50: boarding the Indian, Kanoga.
$137.25; court fees, $1,199.08; wolf scalps, $23; boarding and
keeping prisoners, $179.87: laying out roads, $116.98; total ex-
penses, $8,040.75 which, added to the county debt, made a total of
$17,419.99. The county debt increased during the year $2,603.31.
The big expenses had been support of the poor and fitting up the
court house. The poorhouse about to be built would reduce, it was
estimated, the annual pauper expense. "The county commissioners
assure their fellow citizens tliat not one dollar is allowed by tliem
but what is unavoidably necessary and that they have left and will
leave no means untried to extricate the county from debt. It is be-
lieved that our financial affairs (taking into consideration the fact
that our court house is built, and fitted up in a manner superior to
any in the state) arc in a better condition than tliose of any other
county therein. Our county is rapidly filling up with an industriotis
population which necessarily will increase the amount of taxable
property, increasing correspondingly tlie revenue, for many years to
come ; little or no taxes have heretofore been derived from the as-
sessment of lands, in consequence of the great portion of the same
remaining unentered previous to March, 1847, owing to the claim
of the Dubuque heirs: this difficulty is now removed, tlie land in
the county being at this time nearly, if not quite all, entered and
subject to taxation." — (Michael W. Power, John G. Shields and
Lyman Dillon, commissioners, February, 1848.)

In 1848, Mordecai Mobley was school fund commissioner. There
were 11,060 acres in Dubuque county for public schools.

In July, 1848, John G. Shields, who was appointed agent of the


board to buy a poorhouse and lands for a farm, reported that he
had bought such a farm of Joseph Evans and had paid him $417;
had paid $175 for a land warrant, and the total cost was $594.50.
The board called for proposals to build a poorhouse — a hewed log
building of two rooms, fourteen feet square in the clear, with a
large hall between them. Robert Flanagan leased the county farm
in August, 1848. John Carson was the agent of the board to rent
the farm.

On February 7, 1849, several petitions, numerously signed, re-
quested the board to alter the boundaries of the townships and to
set off each surveyed township of thirty-six sections as near as prac-
ticable, with a separate township, whereupon the board, after due
consideration, ordered the following townships to be created, the
order to take effect April i, 1849: Peru, townships 90 and 91,
range 2 east : Julien, township 89 north, ranges 2 and 3 east ; Mos-
alem, fractional township 88 north, ranges 3 and 4 east ; Washing-
ton, township 87 north, range 2 east; Table Mound, township 88
north, range 2 east ; Jefferson, township 90 and fractional township
91 north, range i east; Center, township 89 north, range i east;
Mount Pisgah, township 88 north, range i east; Prairie Creek,
township 87 north, range i east ; Whitewater, township 87 north,
range i west ; Taylor, township 88 north, ranges i and 2 west ;
Iowa, township 89 north, ranges i and 2 west ; Concord, township
90 north, range i west; Liberty, township 90 north, range 2 west;
Cascade, township 87 north, range 2 west. New Wine and Dodge
were not yet provided for. In the above named townships elections
were ordered held for the necessary township officers.

Michael W. Power, John G. Shields and Lyman Dillon were
county commissioners in 1847-8. The state census of 1847 gave
Dubuque county a population of 7,440. In 1847 the proclamation
of President Polk threw much land west of Dubuque into market,
the sales to take place at the land ofifice in Dubuque.

The county assessment for 1847 amounted to $972,010, and for

1848, $1,368,401.

In 1847 the county tax list was $5,437.44; in 1848, $7,712.16; in

1849, $8,260.10. Of these three amounts, by February 19, 1850,
there was delinquent $5,836.56. The county assessment in 1847
was $972,010; in 1848, $1,368,401 ; number of polls in 1847. 1,151 ;

1848; 1,758.

Early in 1849 proposals for a poorhouse were called for and the
following bids were received: Robert Flanagan, $650; Frederick
Walters, $584; Ralph Reynolds, $488; the bid of Walters was ac-
cepted ; he received $50 additional for extra work. Timothy Mason,
William Gilliam and Edward Langworthy were the first directors
of the poorhouse, appointed April, 1849. John H. Thedinga be-
came county commissioner in 1849.

In 1849 the name of Pisgah township was changed to Vernon.


On January ii, 1850, Iowa township was divided and New Wine
was formed out of the western half; elections were ordered held
in New Wine at the house of Henry Schemmel. Taylor township
was also divided and Dodge created out of the western half; elec-
tions were ordered at tlie house uf Peter Alelinguer.

In March, 1849. t'le county commissioners, in their report, re-
gretted that during 1848 they had heen unable to reduce the county
debt. The poor expense was large, but now would no doubt be
less, as they had bought a poor farm on the northwest quarter of
section 28, township 88 north, range 3 east, and the west half of
the southwest quarter of section 21, same township and range, mak-
ing in all 240 acres, with timber and water and enough fencing to
enclose twenty to fort)- acres. The poorhouse was a double log
cabin, each half fourteen feet square, with a hall eighteen feet wide
between tiiem ; there was a cellar under one of the sections. Fred-
erick Walters erected the building. The county formerly had
many transients, but now the settlements were permanent, because
in 1847 the mineral lands had been offered to the highest bidder
and substantial settlers had come. The mineral lands could now be
assessed by lot niunbers. There was yet due the county from Cedar,
Jackson and Clayton counties $1,072.32 as their proportion when
stricken off of Dubuque. Suit had been instituted against these
counties. In addition, Clayton county owed Dubuque county
$1,589.45 for expenses incurred in trying the Indians charged with
murder and brought here on a change of venue. Clayton county
had refused for several years to pay these obligations. The county
debt in 1849 was $12,647.35. This was regarded as a large sum at
that time ; five years later it would scarcely have been noticed.
Among the items of county expense in 1847-8 were: Poor, $2,-
276.50; District court, $1,199.08; wolf scalps, ^22,; boarding the
Indian, Ka-nah-gah, $137.25; court house repairs, $937.30; roads,
$116.98; interest on county orders, $339.35. The wheat harvest
of 1849 was the largest and best the county had ever enjoyed up
to that date. Mexican war and other land warrants were on sale
here, many of them $150 for 160 acres. The California gold ex-
citement took away 150 settlers of the county in 1848-9. The
county spent much to crush cholera in 1849.

In 1850, the ofificial census gave Dubuque county 9,185 popula-
tion. The commissioners built a fence around the court house.
Farming, instead of mining, began to engross attention about 1848-
50. The county assessment in 1850 was $1,608,735; in 1849 it
was $1,464,781. In 1850 there were four pianos in the county.
Many new roads and post routes were established. The land sales
in Dubuque county were: 1848, 68,856 acres; 1849, 58'374 acres;
1850, 33,172 acres; 185 1, 35,361 acres.

In August, 185 1, according to law, the county commissioners,
Lyman Dillon, J. H. Thedinga and Michael W. Power, turned


over all their duties to William Y. Lovell, judge of the county
court. The change was welcomed, because many believed the
board had unnecessarily run the county into debt and were incom-
petent, though both cliarges were unfounded and unjust. The
board had been forced by the taxpayers to run the county on too
small a revenue. The county debt on the face was $18,207.82, but
there was $12,570.73 due the county.

In April, 1852, the people voted down the proposition to borrow
$7,000 with which to erect a county jail ; a two mill tax was pro-
posed. The settlement of the Dubuque claim in January, 1854, by
the United States Supreme Court made every resident glad; all
county lots were put on the market at once.

The urgent necessity for a new county jail was felt by 1852
Judge Lovell endeavored to induce the Dubuque council to assist
the county to erect such a building, but did not succeed; the total
cost was' estimated at $20,000. By August i, 1852, Dubuque
county had a population of 12,508 and fifty-six colored persons. In
the fall of 1852 the Dubuque County Horticultural and Agricul-
tural Society was organized and a fair was held late in 1853. W.
Y. Lovell was president, H. S. Hetherington secretary, John Car-
son treasurer, and a vice president was appointed in every township.
An exhibit was made at the court house in July, 1853 — informal
but creditable. On September 8 and 9, 1853, the first real fair was
held in the grove on Couler avenue near Major Langworthy's.
There was quite a large exhibit and much interest was shown.
Each of the two days 1,500 persons attended. Judge Dyer spoke
the first day and Mr. Vandever the second. Jacob Smith took the
first premium on spring wheat — 4254 bushels per acre. Six fine
Durham bulls were exhibited. Hogs of the Byfield and Irish Gra-
zier breeds were shown. The cows and sheep were medium.
Mules, oxen and fat cattle were good. There was a fine display
of Shanghai poultry. The exhibit of apples, pears, grapes and plums
was excellent. But the fair of 1854 was a failure.

One of the first official acts of Judge Lovell was to ascertain the
amount of the old debt and settle the same. Up to March 23,
1853, he found the debt to be $23,456.07. To meet this he caused
to be issued $15,000 in ten year ten per cent bonds, which were
sold in New York at par. Further investigation showed the county
debt to be $28,094.08, much of which was interest that had ac-
cumulated at a high rate for a dozen years or thereabouts. Of this
sum $13,094.08 was refunded and the balance was paid from the
proceeds of the $15,000 bond sale. To meet all this a four mill
tax was levied. In November, 1853, the county assessment was an-
nounced as $4,148,387; there were 2,462 polls. The land office at
Dubuque was doing literally a "land office business," employing
from ten to twenty clerks. From May i, 1853, to November 15,
1853, $850,000 from the sale of lands was sent to the government


depository in St. Louis; Patrick Quigley took $308,000 on tlie
steamer Lamartine at one time.

In September, 1855, a county fair was held at Centralia. but was
not very successful. W. W. Hamilton was president. The state
census of 1856 gave the county a population of 25,871 ; there were
thirty-six paupers. The total assessment in 1856 was $14,190,445,
a wonderful increase. At this time there were strong demands for
a new jail, poorhouse and hospital — for county as well as city use.
Stephen Hempstead was elected county judge in 1855. The ques-
tion of raising means to make these improvements was submitted
to the people and carried and bonds were accordingly sold. There
were over 200 persons in the county assessed at over $10,000 each;
the Langworthy brothers were assessed at over $500,000. In the
spring of 1856 the children of school age in the county were 7,760,
and the state apportionment was $4,746.55. The Lambert farm
near Caledonia sold for $45 an acre — a notable occurrence.

The county assessment in 1855 was $8,203,665. The tax was:
County, $34,331 ; state, $10,250; school, $4,099; road, $7,698, and
enough more to make the total $56,384.32. This showed an
enormous advance over the figures of only three and five years be-
fore. County school affairs began to take shape and expand about
this time.

There was general complaint by the citizens in November, 1855,
that the roads of the county were in wretched condition and
the road law inefficient and unheeded. Township supervisors were
urged to improve matters.

"Considerable activitv was created in the grain market yesterday
among wheat speculators. The prices rose from $1.05 to $1.15
and $1.20 per bushel." — {E. & H., December 13, 1855.)

The county jail, built in 1857-8, was the best at that time in the
northwest. It was located at Eighth and Clay streets in the rear
of the court house. The stone was obtained from the bluffs op-
posite Dubuque. It was begun about February i, 1857. David
Armstrong was contractor. The total cost of jail and grounds was
about $45,000. The sheriff's dwelling formed the front and the
prison proper, about 60x35 feet, was in the rear. It was four stories
with tiers of cells rising above each other — thirty-two cells in all.


Balance in treasury June 30, 1857 $ 38,313.00

Amount of county levy, 1857 77,756.26

County bonds sold, less expenses 30,185.49

Sale of county poor farm 3,000.00

Fees from clerk's office 3,602.00

Fees from recorder's office 2,678.90

Total $i55>535-65



Amount of county warrants receipted $ 63,321.67

Jail .' 28,826.55

Poor house 10,863.85

Total $103,012.07

Among the items of county warrants were the following: Sal-
aries, $6,245.30; District court, $8,961.85; poor, $6,784.45; jail,
$3,255.14; interest, $6,452.34; poorhouse building, fences and im-
provements, $14,777.82; jail building, $26,673.25. David Arm-
strong was the contractor for the county jail at $36,011. The land
at the county poor house consisted of twenty-two acres. The old
poor house was located eight miles from Dubuque. The new one
was near the city. A portion of the county bonds for the building
of the jail and poor house were negotiated at par, but after the finan-
cial crisis of 1857, $9,000 of the issue was sold for 70 cents on the
dollar, the best that could be done.

Early in 1859, Michael O'Brien, county treasurer, was shown to
be a defaulter to a large amount — $108,894 on the face of the
records, and ^2>7'^77 by his own admissions ; he had been treasurer
for seven years. He resigned, soon died, but his heirs made good
the loss. W. W. Beebe owned the "Dubuque Nurseries;" he lec-
tured over the west on "fruit trees" and other similar subjects. In
1859 the county assessment had fallen to $9,419,298. Efforts made
in 1858 and 1859 to revive the county fair failed, owing mostly
to the hard times.

The amount of land in the Dubuque Land District yet unsold,
liaving been reduced below 100,000 acres, the land office was re-
moved from Dubuque to Des Moines in June, 1859.

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 46 of 56)