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 6 of 56)
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others." — ( Visitor, 1836. )

The congressional act of July 2, 1836, for laying out Dubuque
and Peru made the following requirements ; That lots and streets
previously laid out should be properly observed ; town lots to be not
more than half an acre and outlets not over four acres each; lots to
be ofifered at public sale within six months ; no town lot to be sold
for less than $5 ; the lots to be divided into three classes according
to relative value ; persons who had complied with the law as regards
claims and improvements to have first chance to buy their lots; no
person could buy more than four acres unless he iiad made actual
improvements thereon; "that a quantity of land of proper width on
the river banks of the towns of Dubuque and Peru and running
with the river the whole length of said towns shall be reserved from
sale (as shall also the public squares') for public use and remain
forever for public use as public highways and for other pubHc uses."
The grant at Dubuque embraced a section of land and the original
survey was made by G. W. Harrison. In August, 1837, Thomas S.
Wilson resigned as trustee and John Plumbe. Jr., became his suc-
cessor. Thomas C. Fassett was elected president of the board. The
act of March 3, 1837, pro\ided for the laying out of Dubucpie and
Peru by commissioners.

The congressional act of July 2, 1836, provided for surveying the
lots and streets of Fort Madison. Burlington, Bellevue, Dubuque,
Peru and Mineral Point, and $3,000 was appropriated to cover the
expense. On March 3, 1837, an amendatory act was passed by
which three commissioners were ap])ointed to hear all evidence
under the claims made pursuant to the act of July 2, 1836. The act
of Marcli 3, 1839, ])ro\idcd that said commissioners should be paid


$6 per day for their services. The latter act made it the duty of the
register and receivers to expose and sell the lots provided for by the
act of July 2, 1836. The act furtlier provided that the receivers
should pay over any residue to the town authorities. Tiie following
amounts were received by the receivers: Mr. McKnight received
for lots sold in Dubuque $5,573.26; Dr. S. Langworthy, $1,200.90;
Col. George McHenry, $34-70; Major Mobley, nothing. Of the
receipts $3,000 went at once to the commissioners for surveying the
towns mentioned in the act — six towns. The sum of $1,404 was
applied to the survey of Dubuque, which sum was deemed too large
— nearly one-half of the whole. Nearly complete settlements were
made by 1847.

The Fourth of July, 1836, was elaborately celebrated. Hiram
Loomis was chairman and W. W. Coriell, secretary, of the meeting
called to make arrangements. Ezekiel Lockwood was marshal of
the day ; D. Gillilan, assistant marshal ; Rev. S. Mazzuchelli, chap-
lain ; M. H. Prentice, reader of the Declaration; W. \V. Coriell,
orator; Dr. S. Langworthy was president of the day and Patrick
Quigley, J. M. Harrison, Dr. Timothy Mason and W. C. Jones,
\ice presidents. Toasts were offered by Dr. Langworthy, Rev.
Mazzuchelli, W. W. Coriell, Patrick Quigley, Jaines McCabe, John
Iving, Augustus Coriell, Leroy Jackson, J. M. Harrison, David
Sleator, William Blake, M. H. Prentice, S. W. Masters, W. B.
Green, William Cardiff, J. H. Swan, Eli Chittenden, A. Morgan,
Charles Corkery, B. F. Davis of Peru, William Hutton, Ezekiel
Lockwood, Michael Norton, E. G. Chittenden, W. Vance, Cyrus
Harper, William Allen. H. W. Sanford, Davis Gillilan, William C.
Jones, Peter Davis, W. W. Chapman, David Sleator, D. F. Blythe,
T. C. Fassett, Capt. Francis Gehon, John King and Warner Lewis.
R. C. Bourne, P. A. Lorimier, Dr. F. Andross, P. Samuels, Hosea
T. Camp, Edward White, John Ewing, L. Wheeler, John Loraine,
Hiram Loomis, Thomas Fassett and others were also present.

On November 30, 1836, the Miners' Bank of Dubuque was ciiar-
tered with a capital of $200,000, the subscribers being Ezekiel Lock-
wood, P'rancis Gehon, John King. William Myers, Lucius H. Lang-
worthy, E. M. Bissell, Robert D. Sherman, William W. Coriell and
Simon Clark ; they were authorized to sell the stock.

In October, 1836, Dubuque contained about 1,200 population; it
had three churches, two or three schools, fifty stores of all kinds,
including shops: fifty-five dwellings, one warehouse built in 1836,
and was spread over four principal streets and seven cross streets —
approximately from First to Seventh and from Locust to Clay.
The number of votes polled in October, 1836, was 621 in Dubuque
village and over 1,000 in Dubuque count}'. The original survey of
the village embraced thirty-five blocks which were subdivided into
220 town lots. Among the business men in 1836 were D. Gillilan,
dry goods; F. K. O'Ferrall, real estate; O'Ferrall & Cox, merchan-


disc ; A. Levi & Co., groceries and provisions ; John M. Davis, tailor ;
Dubuque Tavern, Jeremiah Penix, proprietor; L. Bruly, boot and
shoe maker; W. M. Baker & Co., hquors; E. Lockwood, merchan-
dise; Philip C. Morheiser, sign painter; Wilham Myers, merchan-
dise ; Emerson & Crider, merchandise ; Timothy Mason & Co., drugs ;
Wheeler & Loomis, merchandise ; George S. Nightingale, merchan-
dise; Dr. R. Murray; C. H. Gratiot, merchandise; Fassitt & Sher-
man, merchandise; Ouigley & Butterworth. groceries; Baptiste
LaPage, confections ; Sleator & Swoker, merchandise ; John Regan
& Co., merchandise; Gartrell & Dougherty, liquors, groceries, hard-
ware, etc.; R. C. Bourne, groceries; S. C. Parish, bakery, confec-
tionery; Swan, Webster & Co., merchandise; McClay & Bellows,
merchandise; F. B. Everett, merchandise; John Amer, merchandise;
H. L. Massey & Co., merchandise.

In November, 1836, a weekly mail between Dubuque and Des
Moines was established. In 1836 Congress appropriated $40,000
for the improvement of the Mississippi above St. Louis. In 1836,
so rapidly was the town growing and so improved were local condi-
tions and business, that the citizens organized as the Wisconsin
Hotel Company and attempted to raise $20,000 by subscription for
a mammoth brick hotel that should fittingly represent the importance
of the place. The hotel was to be located on Main street on lots
bought of Mr. Allen at a cost of $2,000. Loomis, Sleator and King
were the committee to oversee all arrangements. In August of this
year E. C. Dougherty kept New House hotel on Locust near the
Catholic church. The rapid growth was checked in the fall of 1836,
because the necessary building material could not be obtained,
though the stress was partly relieved by the rafts of boards and
shingles brought down from Wisconsin by Ezekiel Lockwood.

In the fall of 1836 William Hale, of Peru, brought from
Shawneetown, 111., a drove of about twenty milk cows which he
quickly sold to the settlers at $27.50 per head. Chauncey Swan &
Company operated a distillery on Catfish creek two miles southwest
of Dubuque. David Sleator began work on a sawmill at Eagle
Point late in 1836. Settlers were pouring into the new lands on the
west side of the rivers. In 1836 about fifty families from Phila-
delphia and a large colony from Ohio crossed and settled in the
open country to the westward. "Dubuque's Mines" was the name
of the postofiice. M. H. Prentice was continued as postmaster. In
June, 1836, a meeting was called for the purpose of forming a
library association. At this date a Mr. Turner lectured here 011
"Temperance." The Visitor said, "As heretofore we will be glad lo
receive also Sucker paper and N. Biddle." The editor was a
Democrat and was' making fun of the paper money of Illinois and
of the national banks. Nicholas Biddle was at that date president
of the national bank which was opposed l)y Presidents Jackson and
Van Burcn and all other Democrats. .Mready, in 1836, a canal to


connect the main shore of the river with the steamboat landing on
tiie iimer slough was discussed and projected. It was found neces-
sary to dig one-third of a mile and through the "isthmus." The
step was deemed necessary for two principal reasons: i. Boats
could come up to the business part of town; 2. a current would be
formed through Lake Peosta and the canal and would drain the
inner and other sloughs.

The first election of trustees of the town of Dubuque was held
April I, 1837, and the following board was chosen: William Myers,
Thomas S. Wilson, Charles Miller, Thomas C. Fassett and Timothy
Fanning. Mr. Wilson was chosen president of the board ; Charles
Corkery, clerk ; Patrick Ouigley, town treasurer ; Philip C. Mor-
heiser, marshal and collector, and Ezekiel C. Dougherty, assessor.
After the election the first regular business was the passage of the
following resolutions :

Rcsoh'cd, That for the purpose of removing the obstructions
from the slough of the river next to the town of Dubuque and for
rendering it navigable for steamboats, that the president and trustees
of said town borrow such sums of money as may be deemed neces-
sary to effect those objects, which money will be repaid as soon as a
sufficient sum shall be in the town treasury.

Resolved, That a committee be formed whose duty it shall be to
carry into efifect the objects embraced in the foregoing resolution, to
employ men and to superintend the work, and whose further duty
it shall be to change the course of the water from the ravine near
Mr. Lorimier's house to a channel more direct towards the river.

Messrs. Fanning, Miller and Fassett were appointed such com-
mittee and later made report that instructions had been carried out
so far as the high water would permit. Regular ordinances for the
government of the town were then passed at subsequent meetings — ■
defining officers' duties ; penalties for breaches of ordinances ; regu-
lating the police ; to prevent running horses, etc. ; fines and forfeit-
ures ; authorizing citizens to furnish fire buckets and ladders and to
form themselves into a fire company.

At the meeting of May 6, 1837, the first steps to raise revenue by
taxation were taken; ten days later the revenue ordinance was
passed. Another early ordinance provided for the due observance
of the Sabbath. Still others defined and marked the boundaries of
the town, location of streets, etc. ; regulated wharves and steam-
boats ; gave Alexander Butterworth and George Strasser permission
to keep a "butchering yard or slaughtering pen within the limits of
the town," etc.

Upon June 24, 1837, after further consideration, the trustees
concludecl to take no further action concerning the streets, in view
of the fact that the commissioners appointed by the President of the
United States to survey and lay off the town were then at work.
On June 26 W. W. Chapman, lawyer, was employed for $50 to


attend tlic five cases of the town then pending. The assessment list
returned by the assessor was found (lefecti\e and a reassessment
was ordered. Stephen Hempstead, attorney, specially employed for
the purpose, gave his opinion that the board of trustees were author-
ized and empowered by the act of incorporation to hold courts and
impose fines ; a day for such courts was thereupon set apart. Citi-
zens were notified regularly to work the streets. G. W. Harrison
was the regular surveyor of the town ; copies of his original plots
were made. It was agreed that Charles Corken,' should be paid
$200 annually for his services as clerk of the board. On August 26.
1837, Mr. Wilson resigned from his position as trustee and hence
as president of the board. Peter A. Lorimier was elected his suc-
cessor, but declined, and John Plumbe, Jr., was chosen and he
accepted. Stephen Hempstead, for $200, agreed to attend to the
legal business of the town for the remainder of the current year.
In September a house to the rear of the store of John Regan &
Company was rented for an office by the board ; they were to pay to
George L. Nightingale, agent for Regan & Company, $5 per month
for the house.

On September 16, 1837, the board caused to be circulated hand
bills calling for a mass meeting of the citizens on September 2t, "for
the purpose of expressing public opinion and obtaining information
relative to the survey of all such lots and parcels of ground as were
intended for public use in the town of Dubuque by the original
surveys." In September, 1837, Fassitt & Sherman were repaid the
$50 they had loaned the board in April ; and Gehon & Hendry were
repaid $25 for a similar loan. An ordinance to regulate shows was
passed October 7. In October steps to grade a portion of Main
street were taken. Quigley & Butterworth and Patrick Finn were
repaid sums loaned the board in April. On November 4 the treas-
urer reported on hand a balance of $36. As early as November 18,
1837, a conflict of certain streets with the graveyard was reported
and considered. The county commissioners and the town iDoard,
both, were at work on the Lorimier Hollow road, a very important
highway leading westwardly : the tioard also worked the Dirty
Hollow road.

"Dubuque is incorporated and though only laid out in 1833 now
contains about 2,000 inhabitants. We have two stone and one
wooden churches: an excellent female school and another for boys;
several splendid brick houses ; a bank which has never suspended
specie payments ; a double steam sawmill and a grist mill about to
be attached; a printing press which issues weekly the Iowa Ncvjs;
about thirty stores: two public billiard rooms; two coffee houses;
an extensive public reading room; foiu^ hotels; two brick yards, etc.
The mail arrives tri-weekly at present, but will run daily from
January i next. Steamboats we clo not pretend to count ; they come
and go constantl}'. Navigation is now in the finest order. Laborers


receive from $20 to $30 per month and found ; mechanics receive
from $2.50 to $3 per day; farmers receive for wheat $2 per bushel,
corn $1, rye $1.50, oats 75 cents, potatoes 50 cents; beef is worth
6 to 7 cents a pound; sugar I2j/^ cents, coffee 20 cents."- — (Iowa
News, December 9, 1837, John Plumbe, Jr.) The town actually
contained about 1,100 inhabitants instead of 2,000. The Lafayette
Circus Company, of New York, performed here several nights to
large houses in 1837; a menagerie of wild animals was exhibited
here, also, in 1837; and a fine collection of paintings.

In July, 1837, T. Fanning & Co. opened the Jefferson House at
Main and O'Connell streets. A weekly mail connecting Dubuque,
Peru, Durango and Cassville was established in July, 1837. In June,
1837, a public sale of lots was advertised at Eagle Point by Thomas
McCraney, Mathias Ham, F. K. O'Ferrall and John Foley. Engle,
Booth & Co. began the construction of a steam sawmill in May,
1837. Previous to the summer of 1837 not a foot of land in Iowa
west of the Mississippi had been sold, though there were about
14,000 squatters. On June 3, 1837, the Iowa News succeeded the
Dubuque Uisitor. with Coriell, King and Russell proprietors. Mr.
Coriell had been connected with the Visitor. Early in 1837, when
the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature refused to place on record the
protests of the citizens of Dubuque against the establishment of the
capital at Madison, the people here protested vigorously.

In 1837 three fine brick houses were erected ; the Catholic cathe-
dral was completed; the Presbyterian church of stone was up two
stories high and ready for the roof. Charles Corkery opened the
Shakespeare coffee house, an institution afterward famous for its
convivial meetings, parties, etc. He kept a file of newspapers from
all parts of the country, to which guests were admitted. He also
kept liquors to which guests were admitted — "cash up." The stand
had formerly been occupied by Gehon & Hendry.

"The Miners' Bank, of Dubuque, has just got into operation
discounting liberally and paying specie. Can you say as much for
any of your old and long established institutions?" — (John Plumbe,
Jr., in Iowa Nc7vs, November 18. 1837.)

The Iowa Nezvs was suspended from October 14 to November 15,
1837, for want of paper. Richard Plumbe succeeded Thomas
Graffort as proprietor of the Washington House. In 1837 O'Ferrall
& Co. occupied their fine warehouse on the wharf. In August, 1837,
flour was $12 to $15 a barrel ; bacon 10 to 12 cents a pound ; corn
$1.50 per bushel; labor $20 to $25 per month.

The steamboat arrivals and departures at Galena in 1837 were
717, according to the Saturday Evening Post, of Philadelphia, of
January, 1838 ; the most of these boats touched at Dubuque. About
the middle of February, 1838. the mercury sank to 25 degrees below
zero at Dubuque. A railway to connect the Atlantic and the Pacific
oceans and to connect the Mississippi and Lake Michigan was


seriously considered in 1838. In the spring of 1838 Dubuque had
three or four church organizations and two stone buikiings : one
bank — the only one west of the Mississippi; thirty stores; tliree
hotels; one theater, one lyceum; two academies; one reading-room;
one printing office; one steam sawmill; one grist mill building; one
coffee house ; several billiard halls ; several "elegant brick mansions" ;
tiie lead mines were in full operation, new veins, lodes or leads being
discovered weekly, though there was no scientific mining here yet. —
(John Plumbe, Jr., in Iowa Ncivs, February 10, 1838.) On Jan-
uary 5, 1838, the Iowa Nexi's said it had received no mail for six
days. The lyceum was organized December 27, 1837. at the house
of James Langwortliy. The Iowa Nci^'s came within four votes out
of twentv-four of getting the contract to print the territorial laws
in 1837-8.

An investigation, in January, 1838, of the acts of tlie commis-
sioners appointed to survey and lay off tlie town showed gross
irregularities and unjust charges. They were entitled, it was sliown,
to thirteen days' pay and had drawn pay for three months. Other
illegal acts were set forth in the records. The commissioners were
Carver, Cubbage and Coriell.

In April, 1838, the following men were elected trustees: Alex-
ander Butterworth, John McKenzie, John Plumbe, Jr., Benjamin
Rupert and Philip C. Morheiser. Joseph T. Fales became clerk and
B. F. Davis marshal. An ordinance to prevent steamboats from
landing freight on the Sabbath was passed in April, 1838. This
caused objections from a number of citizens, whereupon a public
meeting to consider the repeal of the law was called. Mr. Hemp-
stead was employed as attorney of the board "at a fair compen-

In June, 1838, the trustees conferrtd with the county commis-
sioners with reference to the selection of a quarter section of land
for county purposes as per act of Congress. The president of the
board was authorized to confer with the commissioner of the Gen-
eral Land Office with the "view of securing to Dubuque the benefits
contemplated by the law of Congress authorizing the laying ofif
said town."

In August, 1838, William H. Turner stated in reference to his
testimony concerning the United States commissioners to lay ofif
Dubuque that the "answers are not recorded as they ought to have
been and are extremely incorrect. ]\Ir. Corkery, clerk, stated that
the answers as reported were substantially as Mr. Turner had made

In February, 1838, the citizens held a pul)lic meeting to devise
ways and means to imi)rove the mail service. A committee was
appointed to petition Congress to afford additional mail facilities,
as follows: i. A tri-weekly, four-horse, post coach route from
Dubuque to Milwaukee,; 2. a weekly horse route to the center of


Delaware county ; 3. a weekly horse mail from Dubuque to the
Cedar River settlement ; 4. an improvement of the mails between
Dubuque and Chicago and between Dubuque and St. Louis. Judge
Lockwood, J. T. Fales and John Plumbe, Jr., served as such com-
mittee. Early in 1838 the Iowa Thespian Association gave regular
theatrical perfomiances here in the Shakespeare House; the "Glory
of Columbus," by William Dunlap, was rendered by the young men
of Dubuque to overflowing houses and the performance was re-
peated several times. Thomas C. Fassett, A. J. Anderson and
George L. Nightingale were the committee on arrangements for the
Thespians. In March, 1838, the citizens assembled at the Methodist
church and organized a temperance society with Judge Lockwood
president and John Plumbe, Jr., secretary, and decided on a basis of
total abstinence. St. Patrick's day was duly celebrated at the Jef-
ferson hotel. In 1838 Dubuque was made the office of this land
district. Thomas McKnight was receiver and Joseph Worthington
register. In June, 1838, the town board called for a loan of $3,000.
The sale of lands in this district was advertised to commence
November 5, 1838.

The commissioners appointed to lay out the town (William W.
Coriell, George Cubbage and M. M. McCarver) gave notice in 1838
that they would sit in June to determine claims to pre-emption to
town lots. These commissioners were later charged with gross
irregularities if not downright dishonesty. They demanded an
investigation and a committee of citizens found them blameless.

"Changes in Dubuque. — We heard a gentleman remark the other
day that he had resided in Dubuque about five years, during which
time he had lived, first, under no government at all, then under
Michigan, next under Wisconsin, and now under Iowa." — (Iowa
Nni's, July 14, 1838.)

In June, 1838, large flocks of wild pigeons alighted on the build-
ings of Dubuque. On June 18, 1838, John King sold his interests
in the News to Coriell and Russell. Richard Plumbe kept the
Washington House in 1838. There was much complaint in 1838
over the fact that the butchers left offal and bones lying in the
streets. The land office officials gave notice for claimants to come
forward September 15, 1838, and prove their rights under the pre-
emption laws. Land sales during the first four days amounted to
$30,000. Late in 1838 hunting parties from Dubuque killed buf-
faloes and elks on the headwaters of the Turkey and Maquoketa

The commissioners appointed to settle pre-emption claims having
failed to act, a mass meeting of the citizens was held at the court
house April 30, 1838, to consider the situation. It was "resolved,
that a committee be appointed to prepare a memorial to the commis-
sioner of the General Land Office setting forth the grounds for
which the citizens of Dubuque desire the repeal of that part of the


amendatory law which empowers one set of commissioners to
execute the provisions of the act of July, 1836, at the several towns
therein mentioned and asking the appointment of a separate commis-
sion for Du Buque in order that every person entitled to a certificate
of pre-emption may receive the same without delay : that this meet-
ing view with much regret the arbitrary dismissal by one commis-
sioner of Mr. Vliet, whose survey of the town of Du Bucjue under
the instructions of the surveyor general had given general satisfac-
tion to her citizens." Stephen Hempstead. J. Fanning and M. H.
Prentice were appointed such committee.

"Canal. — We are glad to see that two or three public spirited
individuals have commenced this work upon their own responsi-
bility. The great advantages to be derived from this connection of
the river with the bay are too apparent to all to require from us a
word in commendation of this laudable undertaking." — (Iowa
Nezvs, October 29, 1838.)

Late in 1838 W. W. Coriell sold his interest in the Nezi's to John
B. Russell, and Edwin Reeves joined the latter in conducting the
paper. November 3, 4 and 5 Duljuque was crowded with settlers
living to the westward, who came here to l)uy the homes they had

Ill 1838 there were but ten jiersons or firms whose tax exceeded
$10 each and their tax exceeded one-fourth of the whole tax of the
year. In 1838 the aggregate tax levied was $534.37; in 1839,
$740.62; in 1856, $90,000; in 1857, upwards of $102.000. —
(Tillies, September 9, 1857.)

For the year 1838 the total receipts of the town of Dubuque were
$64 and total expenses $211.54^4; balance against the town.
$I47.54_54- The receipts were mostly fines and licenses. The
largest item of expense was $150 for salaries.

In 1838 among the business men were the following: Hempstead
& Lorimier, grain and merchandise ; Paschal Mallet sold his grocery
to M. Frichette ; G. B. Morrison, flour and whisky ; C. Kaltenbach,

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 6 of 56)