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 7 of 56)
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jewelry; G. A. Shannon & Co., general store; Mattox & Markle,
general store ; Quigley & Butterworth, grocers ; Scott & Taylor,
merchandise : Joseph McClay, flour, etc. ; Adam J. .Anderson, wheel-
wright, plough-maker and sleigli-maker ; O'Ferrall & Harbeson.
general store; Emerson & Crider, grocers; E. Lockwood. general
store: Nicholas Carroll sold lime; Gehon & Hendry, general store;
Timothy Mason, drugs; L. Longuemare & Bro., grocers.

The Dubuque Lyceum was in operation early in 1838, with T. R.
Lurton, president, and John Plumbe. Jr., secretary. In February,
1838, a select committee of the territorial legislature investigated
the Miners' Bank. Ezekiel Lockwood was president of the l)ank
and Thomas Martin cashier. The following statement was issued
at this time :



Certificates for specie deposited in Detroit $ 40,000.00

Bills discounted 40,809.05

Due bills of exchange 1,450.00

Due from individuals 2,060.00

Contingent expenses 1,010.26

Suspense account 4,463.98

Real estate 950.00

Foreign bank notes 20,155.00

Items counted as cash 7.375-75

Specie on hand 1,318.02

Total $1 19,592.06


Capital stock paid in $100,000.00

Discount received 864.01

Profit and loss 1,113.00

Twelve months' notes in circulation 12,680.00

Notes on demand in circulation 1,350.00

Individual deposits 3-585-05

Total $1 19,592.06

There had been a sharp crusade against the bank by Edward
Langworthy and others. John Dillon, cashier, swore that the bank
had on hand, November 21, 1837, $41,147 in specie; it had not yet
suspended early in 1838. In 1837 it issued post notes. On
December 5, 1838, the bank was found by the legislative committee
to be solvent and comparatively sound. Its circulation was $10,990;
post notes still out, $5,035; individual deposits, $3,647.39; gold and
silver on hand, $3,033; notes of other banks, $18,874; bills dis-
counted, $71,597.72; real estate, $4,206.11 ; capital stock, $100,000.
The legislative committee was Warner Lewis, Hardin Nowlin and
James Hall. At this time the bank advertised to redeem its post
notes upon demand without regard to maturity.

The theatrical company of Mackenzie and Jefferson rendered
se\-eral plays early in 1839 at the Shakespeare House, among them
being "Honeymoon" and "How to Rule a Wife." Among the
actors were Leicester, Germon, Warren, Sankey. Jefferson, Burke,
Wright and Stafford and Mesdames Ingersoll, Jefferson, Germon
and Mackenzie. Gemion sang "Lass o'Gowrie" and Burke danced
the "Sailors' Hornpipe." The company rendered a farce called
"The Waterman." Tickets, $1; children. 50 cents; performance
commenced at 6:30 p. m. and concluded at 10 p. m.

On January 28, 1839, it commenced to snow and continued for


two days, covering the ground to the deptli of twelve to fourteen
inches. This was the heaviest fall since the winter of 1830-1. It
had been gloomy here before, but now all became merry. Parties,
dances, sleigh rides and merriment took absorbing possession of all.
"Sleigh bells are ringing; youngsters, old maids and even old
bachelors are smiling; beaux are courting, all are dancing, and
de'il take the one that has not felt the comforts of the times." said
the Iowa Nczi's of February 2, 1839.

"The board of trustees of this place has held several meetings
within the last ten days in order to set matters to rights prior to
their retirement from the arduous duties of their office. This is
right. If they have neglected for near a year to hold a meeting,
letting the business for which they were elected go undone, they
should before their term of office expires collect taxes sufficient to
pay their salaried clerk at least. There has been but a small per
cent upon the amount of taxes assessed as yet collected, leaving an
amount due sufficient to put our streets in good order and repair
the damage done to them in several parts of the town. This neglect
comes hard upon many of our well-disposed citizens who have paid
their taxes. Now when they utter a complaint against the board
for its neglect of duty, they are answered that the taxes are not
collected — the people won't pay." — (Iowa Navs, March 16, 1839.)

The fact was that the citizens generally demurred to the payment
of land and other property tax owing to the unsettled condition of
their pre-emption rights and to the claims to all this soil by tlie heirs
of Julien Dubuque.

"The theatrical company of Messrs. Mackenzie and Jeflferson has
been performing in this place for the last ten days to respectable
houses, giving general satisfaction." Othello, Charles II., Rob Roy
McGregor, Richard III. were rendered to good houses. Leicester
was the leading tragedian; Germon made a good villain, and Jef-
ferson could always bring roars of laughter. They left after eleven
days' performance.

The Iowa News was chosen by the legislature to print the session
laws of 1838-9 and was required to give bond for $5,000. In
preparing this bond the editor of the Nezi's came in conflict witli
W. B. Conway, secretary of the territory, whose arbitrary and
dominating practices caused much vexation and anger. A citizen
of Dubuque received a perpetual ferry privilege, investing him witii
the exclusive right at Dubuque. As trade improved he failed to
improve on his rickety old house boat. This roused the ire of the
citizens and he was deprived of his privileges by the United States
District Court. Miss C. Morheiser opened an establishment for the
ladies in April, 1839 — millinery and mantua making. In Deccnil)er,
1839, the Dubuque Lyceum met in the basement of the Presbyterian
church ; A. Levi was secretary.

In April, 1839, the following trustees were elected: Samuel D.



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Dixon, Edward Langvvorthy, Patrick Quigley, Lorin Wheeler and
Thomas C. Fassett. Benjamin Rupert became clerk and George A.
Shannon treasurer. In April, 1839, the board took action "to con-
sider the practicability of the citizens of Dubuque to commence a
system of improvements the coming summer," and a committee was
appointed to report on the best course to pursue. A resolution
offered by Mr. Langworthy in April provided for the appointment
of a permanent committee on finance one of whose duties was to
learn at once if citizens who performed work for the town would be
willing to receive as pay corporation certificates bearing interest at
8 per cent. At this time further inquiries were made by the board
concerning the validity of titles in the town. Five hundred blank
town orders were ordered printed May 15, 1839. Mr. Childs was
paid $50 for a large copy of the original plat of the town. It was
found best at this time to appoint a committee on claims. In June
the basis for street grades was established at several points on the
wharf. Estimates for grading and macadamizing certain streets
were considered. In June, 1839, the board ordered the purchase of
an engine then in the town, but the records do not show what the
object of this action was. At this time the ferries stopped at
McGeary's Landing. An embankment was ordered built from the
lower landing to where Main street intersected Front street ; it was
let out in several contracts by the yard and was paid for in town
orders bearing 7 per cent interest. The base of the embankment
was ordered made twenty-one feet wide and the top fifteen feet

In September, 1839, the trustees met in a back room of the
building occupied by Nightingale & Dougherty. The center of the
embankment being built at Front street was ordered located forty
feet east of the west line of Main street. The contractors of the
embankment were James Currin, John AIcMahon, John Blake,
Hugh Tranor (Treanor) and John Chapman; they were each
required to give bond for $100 and obligate themselves to complete
the work by November i, 1839. Several of the contractors backed
out and were released and others were appointed. Contractors were
paid forty-four cents per square yard. F. Guerin was one of the
contractors. They were permitted to take dirt out of Third and
other nearby streets. In October. 1839, an embankment was
ordered as follows: From First street, on the east side of Main
street, until it should intersect the embankment leading to the lower
landing. A committee was appointed to memorialize the legislature
to the effect that the ferry privileges here were the property of the
corporation of Dubuque. In order to continue Eighth street west-
ward the board bought a portion of the garden of Mr. Lorimier late
in 1839. In November, 1839, the board borrowed $100 of the
Miners' Bank of Dubuque. After November 11, 1839, the trustees


met at the office of Dr. Timothy Mason, who had l)ecome a member
of the board.

On December i6, 1839, the proposed city charter was referred to
a committee. It was duly considered by the board ten days later,
amended and a copy forwarded to Edward Langworthy, member of
the legislature. On February 10, 1840, an election on the city
charter was ordered held at the court house on the first Monday in
March, 1840. A. Butterworth, J. F. Fales and Leroy Jackson were
appointed judges of election. On March 18, 1840, the board
decided to memorialize Congress concerning the disposal of the
proceeds of the sale of town lots. Timothy Mason prepared the

On April i, 1840, B. F. Davis was allowed a bill as per ordinance
"informing on O'Mara, Hedges. Downs and LaPage for violation
of the Sabbath." The vote on the city charter was polled in a house
at the corner of Main and Third streets. E. M. Bissell, for with-
holding the "profiles" from the board, was ordered sued in trover
in April, 1840.

The trustees in April, 1840, were Quigley, Dixon, Mason,
Wheeler, Farley and Miller. Benjamin Rupert became clerk. The
board met in the store of Mr. Hawkins on Main street. Persons
who were using the graveyard as a pasture were ordered to desist.

The Iowa Neivs of February i, 1840, contained the following
editorial : "Du Buque. — Never to our knowledge has our city been
so well supplied with all the necessaries of life at this season of tlie
year as at the present time. Flour which in the winter time was
always held at the prodigious and extortionate price of $18 and
even $20 a barrel can now be had readily at $7, $8 and $9 per barrel,
and all other articles in the same proportion. It is true, money is
scarce, but the great difference in the price of provisions is not
owing to that circumstance. The soil is beginning to be extensively
cultivated. In addition our citizens are occasionally treated with
luxuries which our eastern brethren do not enjoy. Prairie chickens
by the sled load are frequently peddled out through the streets at a
bit apiece and venison is in abundance. The time is near at hand
when we will no longer have to depend upon the lower country for
our supplies of provisions. Indeed, tliat sort of speculation may be
considered at an end already." Jordan's Ferry was opposite
Dubuque. There stood a tavern, grocery, stable and there ferry
privileges could be had. In 1840 there were a first class new horse
boat, a flat, and skifTs. This property was offered for rent in
February, 1840, by George W. Jones.

"Upon a level we suppose the snow to be about ten inches deep,
which, together with the others before it, makes a greater fall this
winter than any one since the settlement of the country." — (Iowa
Netvs, February 15, 1840.)


"NOTICE. — Ran away from the subscriber on the 22nd inst. a
servant girl about eleven years of age ; had on a small figured blue
calico dress, short black hair and black eyes. I hereby caution all
persons against harboring or trusting her, under penalty of the law,
as I will enforce it against anyone to the uttermost extent.

"Du Buque, Jan. 25, 1840. Charles Swift."

Dubuque was incorporated as a city at the legislative session of
1839-40, with the following boundary : "Beginning at a point in the
middle of the main channel of the river Mississippi, east and parallel
with the south line of the town of Dubuque, as surveyed and laid off
by the commissioners appointed under an act of Congress to lay off
the towns of Fort Madison, Burlington, Du Buque, etc., and running
westwardly with the said line to a stone which marks the southwest
corner of said town ; thence northwardly to a stone which marks the
northwest corner of said town; thence with the line of said town to
the slough; thence east northeast to the middle of the main channel
of the Mississippi river; thence with said channel to the place of
beginning." An election of one mayor and six aldermen was
ordered held on the first Monday of April, 1840; they were to
hold their offices for one year.

"The mails are getting far behind. For the last ten days we have
had but one eastern mail. ... A southern breeze for a few
days past, together with a moderate rain, has poured such a quantity
of water on the ice as to threaten a breaking up soon. Mr. Karrick,
mail contractor, informs us that in crossing the river last evening
one of his horses broke through the ice and would have gone under
but for the firm footing and strong exertions of the other. There is
no safety in the ice at the present time." — (Iowa Neivs, February
22, 1840.)

"When Dubuque first became a corporate town, very little interest
was manifested about it — the meeting was not attended by many
citizens and very few of the large property holders and influential
citizens attended. The first board of trustees was composed of men
every way worthy of their station. The Hon. Judge Wilson was
president of the board and I am happy to say they discharged their
duties with fidelity, but the people generally evinced an apathy in
their acts — they stood aloof and when they happened to enforce the
laws they were not backed and supported by their fellow citizens."
— (Civis, in Iowa News, February 22, 1840.)

The Ncivs was suspended from March 7, 1840, to May 5, same
year, and was then revived by W. W. Coriell and Edwin Reeves ;
the former was ov.'ner and the latter associate editor. The Dubuque
Sawmill Company was dissolved in May, 1840, the members being
Caleb H. Booth, Francis K. O'Ferrall, Charles E. Harbeson and
Peter Hill Engle. At the monthly meeting of the Catholic Tem-
perance Society in March, 1840, over three hundred persons were


prescnl, inckidiiig many ladies; nineteen persons took the pledge.
Among the s])eakers were Quigley, Benton, Davis, Bradford, Good-
rich and Collins, nearly all of whom were lawyers. The Protestants
also had a large temperance society. It was thought at this date
that soon one-third of all Dubuque would have signed the pledge.
There were weekly lectures during February and March, 1840, at
the Lyceum ; Mr. Collins lectured there on "Education" to three
hundred persons. The office of town marshal was created May 5,


To Pre-onption Clalmanfs to Tozvn Lots i>i the Toi^'ii of Ditbitqur,
lozva Territory:

You are hereby notified that all lots in the above town not entered
by pre-emption before the 20th day of June next will be then
advertised to be sold at public auction to the highest bidder in
accordance with the act of Congress of the 3d of March, 1837, at
this office.

B. Rush Petrikin, Register.
Thomas McKnight, Receiver.

Man\' settlers gathered here to attend the land sales ad\-ertised for
May 18, 1840. About one hundred encamped on an island in the
river in front of the town. The hotels and boarding houses were
filled. No speculators were here — they dared not appear. The
buyers who came had the cash for their lands. Here was seen the
pioneer in all his might and all his glory. At this sale lands in
Taylor, Iowa, New Wine and Cascade in Dubuque county were

In May, 1840. several new buildings were in progress: lumber
was abundant and cheap ; there were many new mining prospects ;
the smelters were busy and credit was getting better. There was a
duty of 3 cents a pound on pig lead; 3J/ cents on leaden shot and
balls ; 4 cents on red or white lead, dry or ground in oil, and 2 cents
on lead ore or mineral. The streets of the town were infested with
hogs and there was much complaint.

"As the season for fleas is approaching we beg leave to direct the
attention of the corporation to the droves of hogs which infest our
streets." — (Iowa A^ezvs, June 16, 1840.)

"The taxes assessed by order of the board of trustees upon
houses and lots in the town of Du Buque, to which the government
title has not yet been extinguished, being illegal, our citizens are not
willing to pay, without better evidence is furnished them, that the
money heretofore collected has been expended in a way to benefit
the town. It is time enough to pay our taxes when we have our
evidences of title in our pockets." — (Iowa Nczi's. June 16, 1840.)

On June 20, 1840. private entries of town lots by pre-emption


were permitted. In June $70,000 was received at the land office in
one week. The steam sawmill of Booth & Martin, in June, 1840,
was busy cutting from 2,000 to 3,000 feet of pine lumber per day.
Their logs came from the Chippewa and Black rivers. Business
here was dull in June, 1840.

A large raft of sawed pine lumber arrived here from Plover
portage on June 16 and fifteen more from the same place were on
their way down. "If the water in the Chippewa and Wisconsin
rivers should continue high a little while longer, the towns on the
upper Mississippi will be literally deluged with pine lumber.'" —
(Iowa Ncx^'s, June 23, 1840.)

|ohn King was postmaster in 1840. The Iowa Ncivs was sus-
pended from June 14, 1840, to May 29, 1841. The Fourth of July,
1840, was celebrated on an immense scale. In September, 1840,
there were many lots in Dubuque to which no certificates of pre-
emption under the act of March 3, 1838, had been issued; also lots
the certificates of pre-emption to which were granted and issued
illegally and the claims to which had been rejected; also a few
forfeited lots.

On June 29, 1840, the marshal reported that he had completed
the fence around the gra\'eyard. Provision for the safe keeping of
gun powder was made. On July 1 1, 1840, it was "ordered that the
note held by William E. Trask for the fire engine, amounting to
$400, be renewed by another payable October 18, 1840, for $410.66,
at 8 per cent interest. Work on the south end of Main street was in
progress in August, 1840. Proposals for building a town powder
magazine were ordered received.

The act of Congress of March 3, 1837, gave to the inhabitants
of Dubuque the net proceeds of the sale of 640 acres of land on
which the town was located, to enable them to construct streets,
wharves, etc. By September, 1840, there were left about sixty lots
upon which no pre-emption claim had yet been made. In view of
these facts the trustees determined "to see that all lots left as public
lots should be sold at a fair public sale open to all bidders." In
September, 1840, a committee was appointed "to petition the Secre-
tary of War for the survey of the port and harbor of the town of
Dubuque. In November, 1840 there was pending a case entitled
United States vs. President and Trustees of the Town of Dubuque.
As a measure to prevent fires an examination of all stove pipes and
chimneys in town was made in December, 1840. Hay scales were
ordered bought in January, 1841.

"Lately visiting Dubuque we found it progressing finely in build-
ings, mining and dry goods business; but the retail grocers (wet)
wore long faces. A complete temperance reformation has been
effected by the zeal of the Catholic clergy among its much abused
Irish citizens in whose hands the glass has given place to implements
of industrv. Nor is the reformation confined to them alone — it has


spread throughout the community, embracing every class and eveiy
denomination. Ahnost every Irish Catholic has signed the pledge
of total abstinence. In politics she is slumbering — not a movement
save secret caucuses which are held weekly by the leaders of the
party. This is no time for Democrats to be idle ; wake up to duty,
Democrats." — (Bloomington //craW, April i6, 1841.)

"We are happy to perceive a spirit of energy in the movements
of our new corporation which will before long remedy the evils
under which our citizens have so long suffered. The work of
straightening Eighth street and repairing the road through Lorimier
Hollow, over which a considerable portion of the business of the
town with the country in its rear is done, will not only be of great
benefit to our trade, but will stop the rush of water which for the
past two years has been ruining the property at the south end of
Locust street. It is also in contemplation to commence the excava-
tion of the long-desired canal between the outer and inner sloughs
as soon as the fall of water will permit. After this improvement is
completed a current will be thrown into the inner slough which will
render its waters sweet and healthy and enable steamboats to
approach the wharves in ordinary stages of water. We have too
long remained in a state of apathy in regard to the disadvantages
suffered on account of the obstructions to our harbor and the conse-
quent injury to the health and business of this place. No town on
the upper Mississippi has so many natural resources as Dubuiue.
It is only necessary to apply the enterprise of an industrious tncl
vigorous population to insure a rapid advance to prosperity. A fter
this canal is commenced all our citizens who feel interested ii its
speedy completion will have an opportunity of affording uch
assistance to the corporation as they may deem expedient either in
teams or labor." — (Iowa Nrccs, May 29, 1841.)

In 1841 the citizens petitioned Congress for a survey ot Dubuque
harbor with a view of improving navigation. In the spri.15 of 1841
a bill for the final settlement of the Dubuque claim was introduced
in the United States Senate.

In March, 1841, the ladies of the Dulnique Benevolent Associa-
tion gave a public dinner and were patronized by almost »'verybody.
The voluntary speakers were Patrick Quigley, Charles Corkery,
G. C. Collins, Timothy Davis and Rev. J. Cretin. In tbr* spring of
1841 bills of the Miners' Bank to the amount of about $j e,ooo were
deposited and as usual a certificate of deposit for specie tvas issued,
but when the specie was demanded two days later it was announced
that the bank had suspended.

The first number of the Miners' Express was issued about August
I, 1841, by Thomas and Keesecker. Avery Thomas, r<f Dubuque,
went to Cincinnati by boat and purchased the materials. The citi-
zens previously had urged the need of such a sheet here. No doubt
proper encouragement and perhaps pecuniary assistance were ex-


tended. D. S. Wilson related that when it came to naming the paper
many titles were proposed ; finally the Miners' Express was unani-
mously chosen. During its existence it was often called "The Thun-
derer," like the London Times, because it swayed at will the old
democracy of this portion of the West.

On March i, 1841, the citizens of the town voted on the question
of a charter and city government — fifty-eight votes for the charter
and thirty-eight votes against it. This vote was an acceptance of
the charter and an election of mayor and six aldermen was ordered
held April 5, 1841. H. W. Sanford, Augustus Coriell and Dr.
Timothy Mason were appointed judges of that election.

The first city officers elected were C. H. Booth, mayor, and J. P.
Farley, Charles Miller, E. Langworthy, W. W. Coriell, H. Simplot
and T. Fanning, aldermen. Mr. Coriell was chosen president of
the board. On May 3, 1841, Benjamin Rupert was elected city
clerk ; B. F. Davis, marshal and collector ; E. C. Dougherty, assessor
and street commissioner; William Lawther, treasurer, and Charles
Miller, weigh-master. At this time there was considerable money in

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 7 of 56)