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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the land office here due the city from the sale of city lands; it was
decided to ask the Secretary of the Treasury to order this sum paid
to the city of Dubuque.

On May 26, 1841, it was determined by the board to begin at
once the improvement of the harbor under the supervision of the
street commissioner, who was directed to open a canal to connect
the outer and inner sloughs at the best practical points. He was
directed "to deepen the channel which now connects the slough at
the lower landing with the inner slough and levee the same on the
side next the town so as to make as good a steamboat landing as
may be practicable." Mr. Farley voted against this ordinance.

The board opened Eighth street and appointed a jury to assess
the damage thereby to the property of Peter A. Lorimier; they
found the damage to be $70. On May 31, 1841, the board ordered
issued in the denominations of $1, $2, $3 and $5 blank orders to the
amount of $2,000. Proposals for work on the canal were called foi
in June, 1841 ; this work was paid for in city scrip. Another $1,000
was appropriated for canal work on June 21, 1841. Steps to deepen
the mouth of the inner slough at the lower landing were taken in
August, 1 84 1. Another $1,000 for canal work was appropriated
late in August, 1841. Previous to September 6, 184 1, there had
been appropriated for the opening of this canal a total of $3,500;
the canal to connect the outer and inner sloughs. The board on
September 6, 1841. pledged the fund due the city from the land
office from the sale of public lots for the payment of the above
appropriation. The board investigated the accounts of the land
office so far as the sale of city lots was concerned. A great many
grocery (wet) licenses were issued about this time; the license was


Gen. James Wilson was appointed surveyor general for Iowa
and Wisconsin in the fall of 1841. It was stated at the time though
denied that he hought the printing plant of the Iowa Neti'S with the
intention of establishing here a Whig newspaper.

The Dubu(|ue Insurance Company was organized in Februan',
1842, by Edward Langworthy, \Villiam Lawther, J. P. Farley.
Charles D. Townsend, Timothy Davis, Patrick Ouigley. Robert
Waller and Henry Simplot. A mechanics' institute was incorpo-
rated a little while before this date. D. S. Wilson and A. Keeseckcr
were editors of the Miners' Express. The winter of 1842-3 was
unparalleled for its long continuance and exceptional severity. It
began about the middle of November with snow after snow and
severe cold, .\side from a dozen fair days late in January, it was
snowing nearly all the time. Nine days in February, 1843. the
mercury was below zero and of the first twenty-three days in March
eleven were below zero. The river did not open until late in April
and the ice was more than thirty inches thick. In 1842 the Miners'
Bank, after suspension, changed owners and afterward was con-
trolled by the Gas Light Company of St. Louis, under which it
resumed for a short time, but then suspended again. A bill was
introduced in the legislature to repeal its charter, but this step
roused the citizens of Dubuque who agreed to raise $50,000 in
specie to strengthen the bank, providing tlie charter was not re-
pealed; whereupon the bill was defeated in the council though it
passed the House. It was still the only bank in Iowa territory, and
thougji the Democrats opposed it the Whigs fought hard to retain it.

"The Miners' Bank of Dubuque a few weeks ago was selected by
the brokers of St. Louis as tlieir next victim. They refused its
notes, decried them, and soon they were finding their way to the
shaving shop at a discount. Two somebodys were sent up to
Dubuque to examine its affairs, who returned and reported that she
would resume specie payments on the first of July next. This story
told, the brokers could pass her notes at par, wiiich they had taken
in at a great discount." — (Bloomington Herald, July 17, 1842.)

"The Miners' Bank of Duliuque has, we are informed, gone to the

, where we wish all Ijanks could be sent. Give us the barrel

and we know when we inil our hands upon it that it is there and no
mistake." — (Bloomington Herald. July 22. 1842. )

In April, 1842, Samuel D. Dixon was elected mayor and John
Thomp.son, J. P. Farley, James Fanning, Joseph Ogilby. A. Ciine
and Joseph T. F"ales, aldermen. The council elected the other city
officers. The water which came down Lorimier Hollow (Eighth
street) in early flood times caused severe losses and was very
troublesome. Much time was spent in examining the extravagant
cliarges of the commissioners appointed originally to lay ofif Du-
buque. A ditch carried the water down Eighth street to the slough
and had to be bridged at several places. The fire engine was ordered


transferred to a company of firemen formed about this time. The
trustees of the Methodist Episcopal church agreed to sell the old
meeting house to the city council for $ioo. John D. Bush and
William B. Smith, who laid claim to lots on the public square,
refused to vacate until they were paid $ioo per lot each.

The old fire engine on May 2, 1842, was turned over to the
following enrolled fire company : John R. Harvey, Warren Emer-
son, D. McGouldrich, James M. Emerson, William H. Robbins.
James V. Campton, David S. Wilson, A. Keesecker, Rufus Miller.
Charles Miller, Samuel Dodge, R. C. Anderson, William Rebman.
Jacob Evans, B. F. Davis, J. E. Whitcher, George W. Starr,
William Young, James H. Warren, William Newman, C. Pelon,
Timothy Smith and William W. Anderson.

On May 9, 1842, the council prepared a memorial to Congress
asking that body to donate to the city authorities the islands in
the Mississippi river opposite the city ; the memorial was forwarded
to Hon A. C. Dodge, delegate in Congress.

"Orders have been received at the land office to suspend business
until the new register shall arrive and be duly qualified. The conse-
quence of this will be detrimental to hundreds of settlers who have
not yet proved up their pre-emptions under the act of 1840 and the
time will expire in a month from this." — (Miners' Express, Mav 19,

The erection of a market house was first broached June 20, 1842.
and again considered July 11. The city procured considerable lum-
ber at Hale's mill. On July 12 Cline, Fales, Fanning and Ogilby
voted in favor of a market house and Farley against it. A com-
mittee of three prepared plans and specifications for the building.
The council, in October, 1842, inquired into the expediency of erect-
ing bridges across the sloughs, so that access to the main channel of
the river could be secured. In December, 1842, the receiver of the
land office here issued a statement as to the amount of money due
the city, the number of lots yet to be sold, etc. In December the fire
company petitioned for ladders and hooks which were made for
them by Joseph Ogilby upon order of the council.

In 1842 the Washingtonians and other temperance organizations
had strong followings in Dubuque. In 1843-4 Congress appro-
priated $14,500 for the Dubuque harbor. In the fall of 1843 f^^e
trade of Dubuque was much larger than ever before; grain and pork
in enormous quantities came here in wagons from a hundred miles
to the westward. Every business here felt the stimulus. In No-
vember, 1843, Pi'of. M. De Bonneville who had taught French at
Harvard University lectured here on animal magnetism. It was
said he could stop a woman's tongue by merely shaking his finger at
her. He organized a private class and it was declared humorously
that all who had scolding wives became members. It was claimed
that he performed sex'eral remarkalile cures — deafness, lameness,
etc. The first number of the Iowa Transcript was issued lat*^ in


May, 1843, by H. H. Houghton, of the Galena Gazette. It claimed
to be Democratic, but favored Clay for President. The Express
favored Van Burcn. Owing to ill health Mr. Houghton was forced
to suspend the paper temporarily about August i, 1843. The
Miners' Express said February 17, 1843, that mercury a few days
before stood in Dubuque at 40 degrees below zero. — (Bloomington
Herald, February 24, 1843.)

'"We had a tremendous hail storm here on Tuesday evening last.
It broke upwards of twenty panes of glass in the house in which our
office is situated. Six of the hailstones weighed a pound." —
{Miners' Express, May, 1843.)

The famous "Bill Johnson" who had played the part of a villain
in Maine and along the Canadian border came west to Buchanan
county, Iowa, in 1843 and began similar tactics. He had spread
consternation along the entire Canadian border. It was alleged that
the man of that name in the West was not the same person as the
Maine buccaneer. The one in the West was finally lynched by a
party of regulators, but his lynchers were sent to the penitentiary by
the United States District Court sitting at Dubuque. The western
"Bill Johnson" had a lovely daughter who attended the trial and
riveted all eyes by her unusual feminine charms. Mr. Keesecker, of
the Miners' Express, wrote of her in extravagant terms — "heavenly
charms, deep blue eyes, matchless grace, piercing glances, queen-like
dignity, soul-subduing countenance," etc., and was laughed at by
the whole press of the West. He resented this interference and
came near having a duel with John B. Russell, the editor of the
Bloomington Herald. Apparently the only obstacle to the encounter
was their disagreement as to the place of meeting. The blood
curdling articles of the editors make good reading.

The election of city officers in April, 1843, was held at B.
Rupert's office ; Dr. T. Mason and Gen. F. Gehon were judges of the
election. Wilson and Keesecker of the Miners' Express did the city
printing for several years about this period. David & Crawford,
attorneys, represented the city in the case of City of Dubuque vs.
United States Commissioners. At the April election, 1843, James
Fanning was chosen mayor, and Timothy Fanning, David Sleator.
P. C. Morhiser, John H. Thedinga, F. K. O'Ferrall and Joseph
Ogilby, aldermen. There were bridges at Bluff, Locust, Iowa,
Clay and other streets, for which lumber was obtained from Hale's
mill. W. B. Smith was city clerk. An ordinance prohibiting the
opening of saloons and stores on Sunday was lost in June, 1843:
ayes — Fanning and Ogilby ; nays — Thedinga, Morhiser and Sleator.
New bridges were built on Bluff, Main, Iowa, Clay, Locust and
White streets and Lorimier Hollow. In June, 1843, citizens peti-
tioned for the erection of a market house. The city had great
trouble to get its dues from the land office. It was necessary to
dig drains from Bluff street to the slough across Locust, Alain,


Iowa, Clay and White streets on Eighth. Sevenlli and others. Lum-
ber from Sage's mill was used on city bridges. A suitable place for
the fire engine was obtained in January, 1844. At this time the
council resolved itself into a board of health for the suppression of

By May, 1844, the notes of the resuscitated Miners' bank were
at par with specie. About April i, 1844. H. H. Houghton sold the
Transcript to Royal Cooper. The paper expired in September, 1845,
at whicii date the materials were removed to Rock Island.

In April, 1844, F. K. O'Ferrall was elected mayor, and Fanning.
Thedinga, Blake, Rogers, Dwelle, Shields, aldermen. Grocery (wet)
license was fixed at $100. The town lots remaining unsold in
Dubuque were listed in 1844. A general examination of the public
improvements going on here was ordered in April, 1844. Culverts
on all the cross streets had to be built. Again on May 9, 1844,
the council asked the recei\er at the land office why the money due
the city was not paid over. Eleventh street to the canal was opened
in the spring of 1844. The ordinance closing groceries (wet) and
stores on Sundays went into effect in May, 1844. Several mines
were discovered in the forties on city property, which were leased
for mining purposes. J. P. Farley was authorized to build a pow-
der magazine, and all persons who sold powder were required to
deposit the same therein. The council met in a room owned by
R. Cox in 1844-45. In November, 1844, Farley & Bonson pre-
sented a bill of $206.85 ^O"" building a powder magazine. E. Lang-
worthy was asked to appear before the council in November, 1844,
to report the amount of mineral due the city from the Third street
mines. The city's share of this mineral was one-fourth and was
worth $83.30 in specie. Immense sums in the aggregate were spent
on street improvements. The survey of the harbor in detail was
duly considered in December, 1844. Captain Barney, in charge of
the government surveys of the harbor, was consulted and assisted.
The question of a market house was again considered in February,
1845. Levi and Simplot agreed to donate to the city ten feet front-
ing on their lots on Fifth street between Main and Iowa, providing
the same should be used for a market-house. Steps to raise the
means to erect the building were taken in February, 1845. James
Wilson and E. Dwelle leased the city mines on Third street.

In April, 1845, F. K. O'Ferrall was again chosen mayor, and
Elisha Dwelle, Robert Rogers. Timothy Fanning, John H. The-
dinga, John G. Shields and John Blake, aldermen. Twenty feet
on the south side of Fifth street between Main and Locust streets,
owned by Charles Miller, was obtained for a market house. J. P.
Farley improved and fenced the public square and was paid therefor
$136.50. The Couler Hollow road was greatly improved in 1845,
so also was Dodge street up Madden Hollow. Captain Barney gave
the council the hydrographical map of the upper Mississippi in


April, 1845. The council considered the contemplated improve-
ments on the harbor. L. H. Langworthy having exchanged with
the city important lots on the Couler, was required to furnish the
city as a part of the compensation 10.000 good building brick.
G. W. Starr was paid $5 "for fixing and hoisting the American
flag on July 4, 1845." ^- Hooper prepared specifications for the
market house at this time. A stone wall sixty-four feet long and
two and one-half feet thick was ordered built on the west side of
Locust street between Second and Third. In July, 1845. Warner
Lewis informed the council concerning instructions received at the
land ofiice in regard to the vmsold town lots and issued instructions
as to what should be done to enter and pay for the same. December
I, 1845, was the day set to close the sale of such lots. "Cash or its
equivalent in city scrip" was a term often used at this date in the
payment of bills. It was necessary to build a bridge on the landing.
Mr. Cook's plan for a market house was finally accepted. Sealed
proposals for the building were called for. A cistern was ordered
built in the market house — to hold 200 barrels of water. All
slaughtering within the city limits was prohibited from September i
to November i, 1845. This order was in response to a petition to
that efifect. Todd & Humboldt ofifered to build the market house as
per plans for $883.

In January, 1845, A. Keesecker sold his interest in the Miners'
Express to George Green, who had formerly been a member of the
territorial council from Cedar, Linn and Jones counties. Through
the exertions of Charles Corkery there was subscribed in Dubuque
in 1845 $1,000 for a hospital; he also managed to secure the title
to eight acres within the city limits for a site. In 1846 the ladies
of Dubuque, among whom were Mrs. G. \V. Jones and Mrs. J. P.
Finley, gave a public supper by which to raise funds to buy a fire
engine. They gave several others and by 1848 the fund amounted
to $125.60, which the council endeavored to obtain, but w'ithout
avail, unless they should furnish an equal amount. The sum was
put in bank and continued to draw interest. In January, 1845,
pursuant to act of Congress of December 26. 1844, Col. J. J. Abert
and Capt. T. J. Cram, of the United States Topographical Corps,
made the following report of the survey of Dubuque harbor.

The chart of the survey of Dubuque harbor showetl that the
harbor was not in the main river, but in one of its collateral chan-
nels, of which there were several near Dubuque. In times of high
and medium water boats of the largest class could enter the harbor,
but during the usual low and the extreme low stages of the water
boats of that class could not enter all the secondary channels leading
to and from the harbor, owing to the shoaliness of the water. The
shoals were the result of sand and mud de])osits due to the currents
and the islets. At a stage of four and one-half feet above extreme
low stage the mean maximum velocity of the running prism of


water in these channels was only .962 miles per hour, maintaining
an average maximum depth of nine feet ; wiiile the velocity in the
main river in tlie contiguous reacli was 1.5 miles per hour with an
average maximum depth of fourteen feet. It was shown that there
would be no difBculty in removing the existing shoals by the simnle
process of dredging so as to allow steamers of the largest class to
enter the harbor at the lowest stages ; but the dredging would have
to be repeated periodically.

In the law making the appropriation for the harbor the following
language was used: "For the improvement of the harbor at the
town of Dubuque, Iowa, seven thousand five hundred dollars.
Proz'idcd, Upon due examination and survey, under the direction
of the secretary of war, it shall appear that a permanent improve-
ment can be accomplished and completed for this amount so as to
admit the landing of steamers of the largest class navigating the
river at the town of Dubuque at all seasons of the year." It was
stated that "the upper Mississippi rose in June and July, 1844, to an
elevation of twelve feet two inches above its extreme low stage at
Dubuque and did not subside to a stage admitting of taking the
soundings until in October following, when it was down to a stage
lower than the elevation of the June and July flood by seven feet
eight inches. This is the stage to which the soundings recorded in
the chart are all referred and which is four feet six inches above
extreme low stage."

Among the plans proposed for the improvement of the harbor
were the following :

la. Dredge the bed of the main river near Eagle bluff for an
extent of 1,000 feet ; cost, $2,000.

2b. Excavate a steamboat canal from bank of main river from
lower extremity to the head of Lake Peosta for 1,800 feet; cost,

3c. Dredge present bed at head of Lake Peosta for an extent of
1,600 feet; cost, $2,371.

4d. Dredge bed of channel from near foot of Lake Peosta to
head of existing artificial canal; cost, $750.

5e. Deepen that canal, also the head of the natural basin just
below as far down as the foot of Orange street — dredging 2,250
feet; cost, $5,087.

6f. Dredge head of natural channel from Langworthy's ware-
house down to Jones street. 1,600 feet; cost, $1,501.

yg. Dredge head and remove from natural channel from Jones
street down along bluff into the main river, 7,000 feet ; cost, $9,240.

8h. Machines, superintendence and contingencies, $9,400. Total
cost, $43,039. This plan carried out would give open navigation at
the lowest water for the largest class of steamers then on the river
from the main river near Eagle Bluff down to the main river below
the town, four and three-quarters miles.


The second plan was not to use Lake Peosta at all, but to deepen
the secondary channel just east of that lake about i.2CX) feet, and
then dredge. All of this would cost $34,181.

The third plan was to improve the natural channel, abandon the
existing canal and in lieu cut a new steamboat canal south from that
channel into the basin; total cost, $31,857.

The fourth plan was to improve natural channel, dig a deep
feeder for the basin, open a steamboat canal from deep water in the
basin to deep water in the secondary channel; dredge bed of the
channel, and by dredging keep the channel free of deposits ; cost,

The fifth plan contemplated constructing a deep feeder to supply
the basin from the channel, a steamboat canal, dredging the bed of
the channel, construction of a dam, etc. ; cost, $15,689.

Plan six included a deep feeder, a steamboat canal, dredging the
bed of channel, etc. ; cost. $10,277.

Plan seven embraced a long canal .straight through everything out
to the main river, with dykes to protect its sides, a dam across lovv'er
end of basin, sluice-gates in the canal, etc. ; cost, $25,375.

Plan eight contemplated a causeway from the town to the bank
of the main river, where good landing would be found for all
classes of boats at lowest stages ; cost, $64,875

Plan nine embraced a causeway that would be submerged and
would cost $22,333.

The total amount of money paid out by the corporation from
April I, 1843, to March 31, 1844, was $1,491.61 ; total city indebt-
edness, including the above amount, $5,461.84. The total actual
receipts were $1,43465; and the total resources, including this
amount, were $6,302.27.

The total amount of money paid out by the corporation from
April I, 1844, to April i, 1845, was $2,926.11. The corporation
owed W. A. Trask $565.67 and interest for the fire engine which
was bought in July, 1840. On iNIarch 31, 1845, there was yet owed
for the powder magazine $206.85, ''i"'' <^'ty orders to the amount
of $3,337.36 were outstanding. At the public land sale on March
27, 1843, there were sold 170 city lots for about $1,700. The total
receipts of the city for the year ending March 31, 1845, were
$2,662.55. This sum and the other resources due the city and
the public property were estimated at $8,263.06.

The council continued to have much trouble in getting the funds
due it from the land office. Heavy grading on Main street was
done in 1845. Clay street was ordered graded in November, 1845.
In 1845 amendments to the city charter were discussed; a com-
mittee was appointed to make suggestions of changes. Saucier and
Mattox were permitted to mine on Fifth street, they to pay one-
fifth of the mineral found to the city. The council paid $20 for
liaving the willows cut from the island opposite the canal made by


tlie government under the superintendence of Captain Barney. The
assessed valuation of $600 on the library of Bishop Loras was
reduced to $300 in January, 1846. It was ordered in January, 1846,
that no city scrip should be issued for less than 75 cents on the

On March 10, 1846, the citizens petitioned to have the city divided
into wards. Accordingly the council immediately formed the fol-
lowing wards: First ward — All of the city lying south of Third
street. Second v/ard — All of the city between Third and Eighth
streets. Third ward — All of the city north of Eighth street. It was
decided that two aldermen should be elected from each ward and a
mayor from all the wards jointly. Todd & Humboldt were paid
$135.61 for extra work on the market house.

In April, 1846, in spite of their efforts to prevent it, the city
fathers saw city scrip fall to 70 cents on the dollar. In April, 1846,
F. K. O'Ferrall was re-elected mayor, and Hugh Treanor, Michael
McNamara, W. H. Robbins, Mordecai Mobley, Amos Mat-
thews and Lewis L. Wood, aldermen. W. B. Smith was
rechosen clerk. Mr. Trower was the first market master — chosen
in April, 1846. John T. Cook was paid $10 for his plan for the
market house, the same having been accepted. In April, 1846, the
citizens petitioned to have the public scjuare ornamented. A council
room was prepared in the new market house in 1847. The rent of
inside stalls in the market house was fixed at $15 per annum ; choice
stalls were offered publicly to the highest bidder. In May, 1846,
C. J. Leist succeeded Mr. Trower as market master. All articles
of produce or meat were required to be sold in the market house.
A cannon was ordered for $25 for city use. Market hours were
from 3 a. ni. to 10 a. m. each day except Sunday — from May to
October. Mr. Fulweiler's slaughter house was ordered removed
from its then location, it having become a declared nuisance. The
same of Mr. Straper's butchering establishment. ■ Billiard license
was fixed at $25. The beer license was $25. George L. Nightin-
gale became city clerk in 1846. The market receipts from May 12,

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 8 of 56)