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 47 of 56)
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A large meeting of the farmers and others, friends of agricul-
ture, was held in Dubuque February 23, i860, for the purpose of
forming an agricultural society. The meeting was called to order
by W. W. Hamilton and a discussion as to whether the old society
should be reorganized or a new one formed was held. It was
finally resolved to form a new association. A committee was ap-
pointed to draft a constitution and by-laws. Remarks were made
by Hamilton, Heath, Chamberlain, Lovell and others. The consti-
tution proposed was adopted. The following officers were elected :
John King, president ; Mark Miller, secretary ; W. C. Chamber-
lain, treasurer. Every township in the county was represented on
the directory.

The county fair at Tivoli Gardens, Dubuque, was a creditable ex-
hibit. Great efforts for its success were made, the leaders in the
movement being Doolittle, Chamberlain, Van Pelt, Heyer, Mattox,
Lucius Langworthy, Mark Miller, Judge King, Solon Langworthy


and others. It opened September i8; many sheds, pens, etc., were

In 1861. the fair was Hkewise creditable and a success: the re-
ceipts were $1,922.96 and the disbur.sements $1,962.96. The so-
ciety had $602.66 in resources and $150.90 in habiHties.

There were about 1,000 entries from all parts of the county.
Omnibuses ran from down town to the grounds. All branches of
production were represented. High grade cattle and horses were
shown. The grape display was specially fine. Already this county
was famed for its grapes and its grape wine. In all features the
fair was a credit to the county. The attendance was large. So
well pleased were the farmers and fruit growers of the county with
the fair that they immediately organized a Farmers' club to meet
once a month or oftener. The call for this club was signed by about
fifty of the best citizens of the county — townsmen and countrymen.
This county was well represented at the state fair, held this fall at
Iowa City.

The organization of the County Farmers' club was completed
October 6, i860, and the following otificers were elected: H. S.
Hetherington, president: J. C. E. Heyer, recording secretary; C. C.
Oilman, treasurer. Among the questions discussed were, "Can
apples be raised successfully in Iowa?" "Is Hungarian grass
worthy of cultivation?"

In 1864 the plan to secure the state fair for two years was
adopted, succeeded, and as a result the Society leased 12^ acres
for five years, from January i, 1864, at $50 per annum, for the
first three years and $100 per annum for the last two years. The
yard was enclosed with a good fence: had 194 covered stalls: thirty-
five roofed hog pens, twenty-eight sheep pens, one fine art hall,
120x30 feet, two buildings 100x24 feet, one ladies' salon, 40x20
feet, and other buildings. The trotting track was one-third of a
mile. The only indebtedness was $226 to H. L. Stout for lumber.

The fair of i860 was an experiment and was a success, but that
of 1 86 1 was still vastly better in all particulars. It was almost
equal to several state fairs. It was shown that over fifty varieties
of apples could be grown in this county. Plums, pears and grapes,
especially the latter, were very successful here. The trial of horses
to show their style and action was a feature. The receipts of
the three days were aljout $1,400, exceeding by over $400 the fair
of i860. The expenses were about $800. The surplus, with $200
from the state, was to be used toward subsequent fairs.

In i860, the Little Maquoketa was bridged at Burton's furnace;
this had long been needed. The grand jury reported against the
management of the poorhouse in February, i860. On January i,
i860, it was shown that the delinquent tax for 1857 and 1858
amounted to $93,533.63 ; this shows how crushing were the times.
It was estimated fhat farm lands throughout the county would not


sell for more than $10 an acre on the average. A farmer came to
Dubuque in September, i860, with a wagon load of Pinkeye po-
tatoes from a distance of twenty miles and received $3.50 for his
load and his journey of forty miles. It was estimated that in i860
10,000 gallons of wild grape wine were made in Dubuque county.
The population (official) of the county in i860, was 31,348.

The statute of i860 provided for the election of a board of super-
visors to take the place of the county court in handling county af-
fairs. The board of supervisors consisted of nineteen members, as
follows : Dubuque, J. H. Thedinga, J. H. Stewart and Arthur Mc-
Cann; New Wine, John Christoph; Washington, C. Denlinger;
Prairie Creek, Dennis O'Brien; Whitewater, J. B. Kittler; Cas-
cade, E. Macomber; Table Mound, Dennis Donovan; Vernon, Levi
Sparks; Taylor, H. Young; Dodge, Arthur Cox; Center, Wesley
Kyle ; Iowa, Lawrence Duggan ; Peru, F. M. Knoll ; Jefferson, Louis
Miller; Concord. J. H. Floyd; Liberty, Peter Nichols; Mosalem,
Thomas McCallom. J. H. Thedinga was chosen chairman of the
board. On January 7, 1861, the new board met in Dubuque for the
first time. An important measure before the county board was the
construction of a new bridge across the river near Hempstead on the
military road. A committee reported the poor farm in good condi-
tion, but had not enough land to give the inmates sufficient work.
The old county poor farm had been sold for $6,000 to James Burt,
the highest bidder — $3,000 cash and $3,000 mortgages, which had
been foreclosed at $3,226, but execution was not yet issued. This
land of the present poor farm was bought September 26, i860, for
$6,791. The cost of building and improvements was $14,777;
other expenses were $1,576. During i860 there were maintained
in the poorhouse forty-nine paupers. The amount expended for the
maintenance of the poor farm for the calendar year, i860, was
$5,175.97. An addition to the court house had cost $13,272.16.
The number of persons maintained in the county jail during i860
was 151 ; expense of keeping them, $1,682.10.

The farmers' club held regular sessions during the winter of
1860-61 ; grape culture, threshing, Hungarian grass, fruit trees,
preparation of orchards, were several of tlie many subjects consid-
ered. Godfrey Blocklinger lectured on grape culture. Judge King
and the Langworthys took much interest in the society. In Febru-
ary, 1861, Richard Bonson became president of the County Agri-
cultural society. Immense quantities of barley were marketed here
in 1860-1. The Farmers' club held a horticultural exhibit in the
city hall in October. 1861 ; it was a splendid success. William
Langworthy exhibited 180 varieties of apples. Another exhibited
eighteen varieties of pears, and C. H. Booth, thirty-three varieties of
vegetables. Judge King showed seven varieties of grapes. It was
stated at this time that Mathias Lux, in 1859, had raised 6,000
pounds of tobacco on an acre and a half of ground near Dubuque.


War time prices began to stimulate all business by 1862. The Hes-
sian fly appeared in this county this year.

In 1862, the county assessment was down to $5,943,890. The
county began to pay bounty to the soldiers in 1862 — $10,200, and
gave the state fair $300. Bridges cost $7,219.85. Bridges at
Thompson's Mill, English Mill, Whitewater, Flaherty, Maquoketa
at Colesburg, over Catfish on O'Brien's road, etc., were built or

The fairs of the early sixties were e\ents of great importance to
the county. In 1861, the County Agricultural Society leased a few
acres for annual fairs and tendered the grounds to the state so-
ciety, which accepted the offer. There were six acres, with many
excellent buildings, forty pens for sheep and hogs, seventy-five stalls
for horses and cattle, floral building, mechanical building, art build-
ing, etc. The county gave $300 and the citizens raised a large sum
to fit the grounds — $1,800 about. On the first day Hon. G. G.
Wright addressed the crowd. The fastest horses of the country
were here. There were over i ,000 entries. There were many
splendid features and the fair was one of the most successful ever
held by the state society.

In January, 1863, the county at one time was assisting about 200
families — a portion those of soldiers. At this time there were large
amounts of delinquent taxes from 1857 to 1861. inclusive, and
strenuous efi^orts to collect as much of them as possible were made.
The interest alone collected was no insignificant sum. During the
year 1863 the county assisted 243 families, of which 113 were those
of soldiers. The whole amount of countv warrants outstanding in
August, 1863, was $10,000; they were taken at par for taxes. This
year county bonds to the amount of $28,000 were paid to Sampson,
Winslow and Clark, Dodge & Co. The special income tax in 1863
amounted to $23,717.33. The Farmers' Club was active and useful.
The state fair was held here again in 1863. A fine new building
for displays was erected; it was 120x30x20 feet. Judge Wright
was the orator at the opening; $4,000 was paid in premiums; it
was not so great a success as in 1862.

In 1864, Timothy Da\is was president of the Farmers' Club.
Many of the best citizens of Dubuque city were members. In
March, 1864, the railway bond question was discussed. Three mem-
bers of the county board — Rugamer, Crawford and Stewart — and
two outsiders — D. A. Mahony and W. G. Stewart — were appointed
to settle with the Gelpcke Company, who held the bonds. The
Gelpcke Company delivered to the county its $200,000 in bonds,
$48,000 in coui)ons and interest on the coupons for 2,450 shares in
the Dubuque & Sioux City Railway, and for $65,000 in five equal
installments. The county and city of Dubuque paid a large internal
re\enue on liquors and tobacco in 1864 — $150,000, estimated. On


August 7, 1864, cliinch bugs flew in swarms over Dubuque city and

The countv fair in 1864 was excellent — almost as fine as the state
fair. Over thirty fast horses were present. There were many con-
tests — baseball, equestrianism, plowing, etc. Many county roads
and bridges were built in 1864-5. The census of 1865 gave the
county a population of 33,078. The Farmers' Club met regularly
during the cold months. The county fair of 1865 was a success,
though not a great one. Paper from the Cascade Mills was exhib-
ited. In October, 1865, county warrants were worth 90 cents and
county bonds 65 cents on the dollar.

The total county indebtedness January i, 1861, was $279,072.17.
Of this sum $200,000 was for railroad bonds. In 1865-66 the
county spent on poorhouse $6,621,20: poor relief, $2,551.87; super-
intendent of poor, $616: volunteer relief, $13,621.09. The jail
cost $1,679.45. The total county indebtedness January i, 1866,
was $238,065.16. The county paid in bounty to volunteers, in 1862,
$11,000, and paid in bounty in 1864, $127,850.

A trial of reapers and mowers was held on the farm of George
Brown, Vernon township, in June, 1866. The Excelsior, Manny,
Eagle, Kirby, Dodge's, Ball's, Yankee, Buckeye and McCormick
machines were shown. From June 30, 1865, to June 30, 1866,
Deputy Collector Eighmey collected $1,200,000 for internal revenue
in this district. The county fair of 1866 was good. The county
assessment in 1866 was $9,242,756; the total tax was $213,982.63;
of this sum $71,140.30 was for school purposes. In 1865, $18,-
573.61 was spent on bridges; in 1866 less than one-third of that
sum was spent. The county before this date had sent its insane
patients to the state asylum ; as fast as they were announced cured,
they were returned to this county. From September i, 185 1, to May
31, 1867, there were issued in county warrants $656,250.04, of
which $634,327.40 had been paid, leaving outstanding $21,422.64.
The highest issue in one year was $71,836.67, in 1865. The paid
warrants that had accumulated for twenty-seven years were burned
in 1867.

The board was petitioned in 1867 to create the city of Dubuque
as Julien township and all outside the old Julien as Dubuque town-
ship. The school census of 1868 gave Dubuque county 38,860
people. In February, 1867, many bridges were damaged by a severe
storm. In 1868 the county board was increased to twenty-one mem-
bers, instead of nineteen, as before, owing to the creation of Du-
buque township. The law of 1868 permitted counties to compound
ancl rebond their debts. A new poorhouse, two and one-half miles
north, became county property in 1868; the house was four stories,
36x70, and built of stone ; there were thirty-seven inmates, of whom
twelve were insane. The Farmers' Club was still active and sue-


cessful. The county assessment in 1869 was $9,115,656. An
attempt to put the city hospital on the poorhouse grounds was
defeated in 1869. The county fair of 1868 was small.

The proposition of building a new court house was broached in
1869; the existing one was spoken of as an "old, inconvenient, ill-
shaped aft'air." The back part had been built in the thirties, at
Clay, Seventh and the alley. In 1856 the front part was built, under
Governor Hempstead, county judge. In 1853 the jail and sheriff's
house were built on the Eighth street side of the court house lot.
Now, in 1869, ^'^^ county had no debt of consequence, and therefore
should have a court house and jail in keeping with the improved
order of things, it was argued.

The population of the county by the government census of 1870
was 38,969. In 1870 the county board allowed $2,725 on the con-
struction of two bridges within the corporate limits of the cit}' of
Dubuque; the obligation of the city to do this had been in dispute
for many years. In 1870 the board sent to the state insane asylum
fifteen patients ; the newspapers said that "over-excited religious
fervor" was the cause of most of the cases. By January, 1870, the
county owed yet of the Gelpcke bonds only $5,275.25, but it yet
owed of the county bonds $107,000. The total assessment this year
was $9,880,165, and the county tax $73,274.72 ; the bridge tax was
$29,640.97; total county ta.x, $224,921.61. The old red brick court
house on Seventh street was still an interesting landmark, but wholly
unequal to the demands of a progressive and prosperous county
like Dubuque. A new building was talked of. In the old house —
second story — were the court, jury and supervisors' rooms; in the
first story were the offices of sheriff, treasurer, recorder and col-
lector. Bridge building at this time was extensive and costly.

The poor tax in 1871 was $28,831.38. County expenses in 1869
were $71,708.56; in 1870, $68,022.50; in 1871, $59,418.59. In
February, 1871, county bridge warrants were worth 90 to 95 cents;
county bonds. 82 to 84 cents ; county warrants, 94 to 98 cents ; in
May, 1 87 1, county warrants were at par. At this time there was
no county debt, except about $102,000 old county debt and about
$16,000 outstanding warrants. The day (May 19) that county
w'arrants were at par, the treasurer expected a run, and was pre-
pared, but none came ; only $96 was paid that day. The old Kar-
rick diggings were tapped this year to secure pure water for Du-
bufjue. From January i, 1871, to February 15, 1872, old county
bounty bonds to the amount of $100,447.77 were refunded in new
twenty-five-year 6 per cent bonds. The relatives of Thomas S.
Hinds, in 1872, sued the county for $25,000 for the drowning of
him, his wife and his boy in May. N. W. Boyes became county
superintendent, vice Mr. Norman, killed.

The county assessment in 1857 was $18,844,190; in 1859 it was


$6,694,786; in 1862 it was $5,967,815, the lowest; in 1867 it was
$10,415,960; then dropped and in 1873 was $9,972,104. The
county tax in 1857 was $136,415 ; in 1859 it was $66,212 ; in 1867,
$242,864; in 1873, $230,503. In 1873 county warrants and bridge
warrants were at par and county bonds were 97 to 98 cents. In

1873 three commissioners took the place of the old board of com-
missioners: L. Duggan, T. Crawford and W. Coates. The law of

1874 required assessors to assess at the real cash value; the assess-
ment was now about $18,000,000. The Upper Iowa or Northwest-
ern Fair was held here in 1874 — up the Couler. Track, buildings
and grounds were put in excellent condition. D. N. Cooley was
president; on the third day over 15,000 people were present; the
total receipts were over $20,000 ; it was a splendid success — just
what could be done here when the good people tried.

In 1875 the population of the county was 43,845 by the state cen-
sus. The fair was again held here and was another exceptional suc-
cess. President A. S. Welch, of the State Agricultural College, was
the speaker at the opening. The races drew immense crowds ; Mr.
Cooley was still president. The Brothers from Melleray exhibited
high grade Shorthorn cattle; the art hall was beautiful and attract-
ive in the extreme : the booths, amphitheater and power hall were
features. In November, 1875, the poorhouse was destroyed by fire.
At the time the cold was intense, and no water available. Through
the efforts of Henry Patterson, no lives were lost and much of the
furniture was sa\-ed. The inmates (fifty-one) were cared for tem-
porarily elsewhere near.

A new court house was talked of in January, 1876. In March
the county board bought of W. H. McNear the farm known as the
old Farley place, at Julien station, for a poorfarm; the 200 acres
cost $10,000. Temporary buildings were occupied until a new
building could be erected. The new building was planned to be
three stories and basement and in size 35x69 feet; material, stone
and brick; cost, about $10,500. Congress passed an act in 1876
gi\'ing the county the right to use Washington Square for a court
house site. On April i, 1876, the county was free of debt. This
year the county board were : William Coates, Mark Sullivan and
Jacob Kessler. Godfrey Blocklinger died this year; he came from
Switzerland, about 1844-45, ^"^ was a prominent and useful citi-
zen; he was for many years an active member of the Farmers'
Club. In 1877 Dennis A. Mahony became county commissioner.
There was much objection to the large amount of poor relief sup-
plied by the county. The fair or exposition in 1877 ^^s on a grand
scale and a fine success ; the total receipts were nearly $28,000 ;
15,000 people were present the best day. The expenses about cov-
ered the receipts ; large prizes and premiums were paid ; the appro-
priation for it was $500. A petition of the citizens for a new court


house was presented in 1878. The total county expense in 1878
was $95,204.10; the total county tax was $240,535.80. In 1879 the
Taxpayers' League was formed. In January, 1879, there were
eighty-four inmates at the poorhouse ; two were ninety-four years
old and two others were ninety-two.

In the assessment case of the county against the bridge company,
the county lost. The county assessment in 1880 was Sio.144,435,
and the total tax $236,161.25. The fair in the fall of 1879 was well
attended and successful : it was the sixtli straight success ; the
receipts were $19,084.38, less $77.59 on hand at the beginning. In
1881 there was paid in bounty on wild animals $957. There were
sixty inmates at the poorhouse January i, 1881 ; poor expense was
over $30,000. In 1882 a county loan of $65,000 was taken by the
German Bank at 102 per cent. In 1882 the bounty on wild animals
was $1,134, and bridges cost $23,859.25. The total tax in 1884
was $264,174.66. The county school population in 18S4 was 11,152,
the largest in the state. The total assessment in 1886 was $9,536,-
934. T. W. Johnson was steward of the poorfarm. The county
assessment in 1873 ^^'^s $9,142,625; in 1887 it was $9,353,589.
Many argued that the present assessment was too low ; the Knights
of Labor declared that rich tax dodgers were too numerous. The
total county warrants issued in 1887 was $107,394.53. In 1888 the
proposition of the county to the city of Dubuque for the latter to
use the county prisoners on the streeets was accepted : the county
board said that prisoners had been so well treated that they did not
want to be released, and when released committed offenses in order
to get back again. In 1888 the county debt was $115,000. and in
1889 it was $90,000; $65,000 was bonded. In 1889 the county tax
rate was 30 mills on the dollar and about one-half of it was for
schools; the assessment was between 30 and 40 per cent of the real
value. In 1889 $90,000 in county bonds sold for $90,800, to a
Cleveland company; they were for ten years. In 1889 the insane
cost $11,953.80; there was too much insanity, alarmingly said the

It was decided early in 1890 to build the proposed new court
house on the present site and not on Washington Square, as had for
years been suggested by not a few citizens. This spring (1890) the
citizens of Dubuque, who on the question of erecting a new court
house had been denied that privilege and opportunity so long, deter-
mined to effect that result if it could possiblv be accomplished. Thev
knew that nearly or quite all the county outside of the city of Du-
buque would oppose them, and accordingly began a stirring cam-
paign, almost a crusade, to carry the question at the polls, where it
was finally submitted. The election was held June 3, and resulted
as follows :


For Against

Precincts — Bonds. Bonds.

Cascade 3 222

Center 28 41

Concord 49 79

Dodge 7 162

Dubuque 44 17

Dyersville 42 184

Iowa 4 lOi

Jefferson 19 54

Julien, First 256 loi

lulien, Second 499 1 1

julien, Third 638 35

Julien. Fourth 574 26

julien, Fifth (East) 215 41

Julien, Fifth (West) 357 39

Liberty 20 105

Mosalem 16 13

New Wine 42 72

Peru 38 9

Prairie Creek 27 75

Table Mound 18 69

Taylor 28 255

^'f I'lion 5 95

Washington 7 95

Whitewater 5 197

Totals 2,941 2,098

Dubuque city was overjoyed at the result, and began immediate
preparations to build. The total county debt on January i, 189 1,
not counting court house bonds, was $76,426.52. In 1890 the
county supervisors were Klauer, Cunningham, Dunn, McNamara,
Stewart, Schemmel and Schueller. For the calendar year 1890 the
total county expense was $82,764.17; the insane cost, $14,366.65;
bridges, $20,971.01, and late in the year there was paid on the new
court house the sum of $4,258.59. Court house bonds to the
amount of $125,000 were sold at par in April, 1891, to P. J. Lee.
president of the Citizens' State Bank; they ran for twenty-five
years and bore 4 per cent interest. Fred Heer & Sons were the
court house architects. The corner-stone was laid with due cere-
mony on July II, 1 89 1, a large crowd being present. The Greys
and Sharpshooters were out. The leading speakers were Judge
D. J. Lenehan, Hon. Alphons Matthews and Hon. F. B. Daniels.
Present were the venerable Gen. George W. Jones and Judge
Thomas S. Wilson. It was a memorable occasion. The cost of the
building proper was $145,439.22; furnishings and superintending,


$32,923.78; total, $178,463. It was completed and occupied in

The census of 1890 gave Dubuque county 49,848 population;
Dubuque city, 30,311; Dyersville, 1,272 (975 in 1880); Epworth,
348; Farley, 582; Cascade (all sections), 1,396. The population
of the county in 1880 was 42,996. In 1891, M. Liddy was steward
of the poorfarm; he raised during the year $2,081.82 worth of live
stock and hay, and sold in hay and grain $3,060 worth. The live
stock left on the farm was worth $3,683. For the calendar year
1891 the total county expense was $186,601.93. In 1892 the county
refused to divide its bridge fund with the city of Dubuque.

The county board levied one-fourth of a mill on the dollar in
September, 1893, ^oi" ^'i^ purpose of creating a fund for the relief
and funeral expenses of honorably discharged and indigent Union
soldiers, sailors and marines, and the indigent wives, widows and
minor children of such soldiers, etc., having a legal residence in this

In August, 1893, the townships of Washington. Prairie Creek,
Whitewater, Cascade, Dodge, Vernon and Mosalem complained
because they had no representative on the county board.

In 1893 the county assessment was $12,256,175. By 1892-93
there had been issued of the court house bonds $125,000; the bal-
ance was in warrants. The county smallpox hospital was located
near Asbury in 1894; the county and city jointly put up the brick
building and bore the expense. In 1895 Dubuque county had

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 47 of 56)