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 9 of 56)
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1846, to August 10, 1846, amounted to $36.25. The city advanced
William Rebman $25, to be used in buying a cannon; but as he had
not done so by August 24, 1846, he was ordered to refund that
amount. J. P. Farley and Ciiarles Corkery were paid $40 in
Augtist, 1846, for improvements on the public square. John D.
Bush, owner of a slaughter house, was ordered to change his location
in August, 1846.

In September, 1846, the council appointed a committee to draft a
new charter for tlie cit}^ of Dubuque, to be submitted to the Legis-
lature the coming winter.

In 1844 Congress appropriated for the improvement of Dubuque
harbor the sum of $7,500, and later $7,000 more was appropriated
for the same purpose. In November, 1846, the work not progress-


ing as well as expected by the council, they called upon Captain
Barney, superintendent in charge, for a report as to how much of the
money had been spent, amount on hand, time yet required to com-
plete the work, etc. In December, 1846, the council caused to be
enumerated all of the islands opposite the city for the purpose of
petitioning Congress for a donation of the same to the city, previous
to the public sale which was to take place in March, 1847. Such a
petition was prepared by the city attorney.

To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives in
Congress assembled :

"We, the undersigned, the mayor and aldermen of the city of
Dubuque, would most respectfully solicit your honorable bodies to
enact a law donating to the city of Dubuque certain islands situate,
lying and being opposite said city and between the city and the main
channel of the Mississippi river; or otherwise, if your honorable
bodies should deem it inexpedient to donate the same, to grant to the
city the exclusive right and privilege of purchasing the same at the
same rate that other lands of the United States are sold. We would
most respectfully urge upon your consideration the following rea-
sons, as among numerous others, for our request : The situation
and locality of the islands are such, that if they should fall into the
hands of private individuals, the city of Dubuque would be almost
entirely cut off from the main channel of the river, and subject the
citizens to great inconvenience, and the most unconscionable exac-
tions from them on the part of prix-ate speculators. For the purpose
of more fully exhibiting to you our peculiar situation and the
dilemma the city would be placed in should the title to those islands
happen to fall into hands other than the city, we have caused a map
to be made and hereunto annexed, by which it will appear that what
has been and is alleged by us is true; and by which it will
also appear that we ask from you to grant the city only those lands
which are absolutely necessary to its growth and commercial impor-
tance; in which also the whole nation as connected with the great
national thoroughfare — the Mississippi river — have a deep interest
and must be materially benefited ; to grant to the city the following
lands, to-wit : All of sections 19 and 30, township 89 north, range 3
east, and a fraction of section 25, township 89 north, range 2 east,
as is more particularly marked and designated upon the map afore-
said, and must in our ojiinion most clearly manifest itself to the Con-
gress of the United States. We are fully impressed with the opinion
and firm belief that after the national legislature has, in its liberality,
granted us a tract of land upon which is located the city of Dubuque,
they will still continue to exhibit their regard for our welfare, by
granting us a boon which is so essential and necessary for its future
prosperity and happiness and which cannot, at the present time, in
any material way affect the previously vested rights of ]iri\-atc indi-


viduals. We would further most respectfully state to your honor-
able bodies, that unless Congress pass a law enabling the land before
described to become the property of the city of Dubuque, the appro-
priations which have already been made by that body for the
improvement of the harbor, a part of which has already been
expended, will prove to be entirely useless, worthless and of no avail
to the city. We would further represent that the lands above
described are entirely unfitted for cultivation or habitation, and can
only be useful to the city for commercial business, and for city pur-
poses, and that they would be valuable to the city alone and to none
other, except for those who designed speculating upon the necessi-
ties of the city, and the rise of property in the neighborhood of a
growing city.

"F. K. O'Ferrall, niayor; William H. Robbins, L. L. Wood, M.
McNamara, M. Mobley, Hugh Treanor, Amos Matthews, aldermen.
Attest: George L. Nightingale, clerk. Dubuque, December 15,
1846." (Senate Documents No. 256, 29th Cong., ist session.)

The total amount of money paid out by the city for the fiscal
year ending April i, 1846, was $3,438.51; the total receipts were

In a communication to the Senate committee dated January 29,
1847, James H. Piper, acting commissioner of the general land
office, stated that "there would not appear to be any preemption
claim preferred for any of the islands in the Mississippi river
opposite the city of Dubuque;" that "with regard to their probable
value this office has no means of knowing;" and that "the bill
enclosed by you gives authority for the entry of 'the islands in the
Mississippi river opposite the said city' and then characterizes them
by saying, 'which are fractions within sections 19 and 30, township
89 north, range 3 east; and in section 25, township 89 north, range
2 east;' while, from the diagram referred to, it will be seen that
the above special designations include only parts of said islands,
leaving out the following, viz. : Fractions in sections 17, 18, 20
and 31, township 89 north, range 3 east, amounting in the aggre-
gate to 73.13 acres." (Senate Docs., No. 109, 29th Cong., 2d

In 1847 George L. Nightingale was appointed public bidder at
the sale of the mineral reserve. He performed his arduous and
delicate duties to the satisfaction of all.

In 1847 members of the Mechanics' Institute debated in the hall
over Terry's saloon the question: "Rcsoh'cd, That the Wilmot
proviso is right and ought to be sustained by the American people."
Late in 1847 the Dubuque Philharmonic Society gave a series of
concerts at the Congregational church, rendering both secular and
sacred music to large audiences. Captain Barney's work on the
harbor was still in progress. Many new and fine residences were
erected in 1846 and 1847 — notably by General Jones, Gilliam, Reed,


Gildea, Rogers, Peacock and otlicrs. A ^Ir. Spencer gave exhibi-
tions of animal magnetism as it was then called. In 1847 George
Grten was editor and proprietor of the Miners' Express and Wil-
liam H. Merritt was associated with him as editor.

In 1847 the Waples House was kept by H. Curtis; the Western
hotel by W. S. Berry, George McHenry had formerly kejjt the
Western hotel ; David Jones was architect and builder ; H. P. Leach
kept school in the basement of the Methodist church. In 1847
many Dubuquers attended the immense river and harbor conven-
tion at Chicago. Early in 1847 A. P. Wood established a weekly
newspaper called the Tribune. It was about this time that the
first large steam flouring mills were put in operation here by
Nadeau, Rogers & Co.

Steps to organize three fire companies were taken in January,
1847; the old fire engine was found to be practically useless; fire
ladders were ordered for the upper, lower and central sections.
The Hibernian Benevolent Society was permitted to occupy the
city hall. The Fulweiler slaughter house was ordered removed
from the city limits in February, 1847; but evaded the order and
remained. The islands in front of the city were reserved from
public sale. By paying $50 the council obtained permission to use
for fire purposes the well of Emerson Shields on Fourth street.
Upon the payment of $100 Timothy Fanning was given exclusive
ferry pri\ileges in 1847-8. The grading of Bluff street from Dodge
to Twelfth was ordered in May, 1847. A room for a calaboose was
ordered rented and fitted up; it was ready in July. In August,
1847, the mayor was authorized to buy the islands in front of the
city — three of 85.47, 149.75 ^"*^1 4-^~ acres, respectively.

In December, 1847, Martin L. Morris succeeded Chauncey Swan
as proprietor of the Morris hotel. Before this date the Masons
and Odd Fellows had strong organizations here. Doctor Reynolds
lectured on "Astronomy" over Terry's saloon in December, 1847.

"Variety — Wood, butter, cheese, lard, eggs, flour, potatoes, wheat,
corn, chickens and pork will be taken in payment for the Express."
— {Miners' Express, December 8, 1847.)

Many bogus half dollars were in circulation here late in
1848; they were made near here. Late in 1848 Harrison Holt
ancl A. Keesecker were proprietors of the Miners Express.
William A. Adams was president of the Dubuque Debating
Society late in 1848. The Dubuque Mutual Fire Insurance
Company began operations in April, 1848, with C. H. Booth presi-
dent, and Mordecai Mobley secretary. The following merchants
had immense stocks of goods in 1848: S. M. Langworthy, Curtis
& Waite, Murphy & Burke, P. & R. C. Waples (had in stock over
$36,000 worth of goods), Waples & Zirkle, Goodrich & Bro., the
Smiths and Emerson & Shields. The wholesale trade was very


large. Dan Rice, the famous Shakespearean jester, was here in
June, 1848. Performances were given at the Waples House.
Yani<ee Hill gave representations of down-east characters.

The Express failed to make its appearance on time late in Janu-
ary, 1848, the reason being that someone entered the office on the
Sunday night before, threw all matter into pi, except one form,
which was almost entirely destroyed by blows from a hatchet.
"The monster who would perpetrate this act would be guilty of
the worst species of robbery, rapine and murder. Let those row-
dies who were engaged last Sunday evening in interrupting the
service at the Methodist church by touching off trains of powder
upon the fence mark well their future course," said the editor
January 26, 1848. The c^uestions of importance in the spring of
1848 were the improvement of Lorimier Hollow, the harbor being
built by Captain Barney and his dredge-boat; regulation of the
liquor trade, and removal of filth from the streets.

R. Spaulding was a book seller, music dealer and generally a
patron of art; his book store was the first in Dubuque. In May,
1848, W. H. Merritt withdrew from the Miners' Express and Wil-
liam Y. Lovell became sole proprietor of that sheet. Peter Waples
kept the Waples House at Second and Main streets in the spring of
1848. R. Plumbe kept the City hotel. A semi-weekly of the
Miners' Express, started March 29, 1848, was discontinued in
December, 1848. In the spring of 1848 Dubuque demanded a free
ferry across the river or a cessation of high ferry rates. As high
as $1 had been charged in emergencies for ferriage. Early in 1848
R. Spaulding established and maintained a library of standard
periodical literature, to which persons were admitted upon the pay-
ment of $3 per annum. In 1848 the Irish Shamrock Society and
St. Raphael's Temperance Society united to celebrate St. Patrick's
day. In March, 1848, James Pratt & Co., owners of the Dubuque
Flouring Mills, called for 50,000 bushels of wheat and 4,000 flour

A "Countryman" in the Miners' Express of February 23, 1848,
asked why the road leading up Lorimier Hollow was not widened.
He said that it was so narrow in places that two wagons could not
pass each otlier, and further said : "Several serious accidents have
recently occurred on this much-traveled, very crooked, pinched-up,
starved out, narrow contracted, Lorimier-fenced-up, disreputable,
dangerous, leg-breaking, skull-cracking, wagon-smashing, horse-
killing, badly-located, poorly-worked, corporation neglected, tire-
some and hilly road."

W. D. Wilson and Mr. O'Reilly were rival telegraph agents here
in the spring of 1848, each trying to get the support of the citizens
to extend his line to this city. Each claimed the right to the Morse
patents. Shares in the lines were offered at 50. It was claimed
that the Barnes and Zook register was superior to that of Morse.

Whether the ferry privilege of Timothy Fanning was exclusive


under liis charter, and what ferry rights were owned by Jones &
Gregoire, were inquired into in May, 1848. The city attorney hav-
ing filed with the council his written opinion against the right of the
city to establish a free ferry across the ^Mississippi, the council
resolved that it was their "opinion that the city has the right to
establish a ferry from this and the opposite side of the river and
that the charter of Mr. Fanning is not exclusive." In June, 1848,
the council refused to appropriate $375 at the request of Captain
Barney to assist him in work on the harbor. In July, 1848, the
council offered a reward of $150 for the apprehension of the per-
sons "guilty of the outrage on the United States property emplo3'ed
in improving the harbor, and that a guard of twenty men be author-
ized for the protection of the same, provided they can be obtained
free of expense." To drive out smallpox $365.75 was spent in
July, 1848.

In September, 1848, the first telegraph line was completed and
opened to Peru, Illinois. The first messages were as follows :

"Peru, September 15, 1848. The compliments of C. S. Oslere to
the ladies of the Waples House by lightning: would be happy to
receive a 'flash' from them. C. S. Oslere." The following answer
was "flashed" back : "Dubuque, September 15, 1848. C. S. Oslere:
The ladies of the Waples House thank Mr. Oslere for his burning
communication ; it wanned their cold hearts ; they rejoice to know
that they have a 'spark' in Peru. Ladies of Waples House."

The California gold excitement struck Dubuque county in Decem-
ber, 1848. On December 30 a public meeting was held at the
courthouse to form an organization of all who desired to go to the
gold field. Mr. Morrison of Cascade was conspicuous in the Cali-
fornia exodus. Late in 1848 citizens demanded that the unfinished
harbor be completed.

The cholera at New Orleans in January, 1849, caused Dubuque to
take extra precautions against the disease. W. Y. Lovell owned the
Express for about six months, when it passed back to Holt and
Keesecker late in 1848. On March 19, 1849, fourteen wagons
bound for the gold field crossed the river here. Merritt, Mobley,
Hammond, Gilliam, Alverson, Cox, Coriell and others left for
California via the Isthmus of Panama. The California Society
was organized, so great was the excitement. In the spring of 1849
the Northtvest Demokrat was issued here by V. Hauf; it was in
the German language. The Galena and Dubuque Mining Company
was an organization which, with fifty-three teams, crossed the plains
to California in 1849. The snowfall of the winter of 1848-9 at
Dubuque aggregated five feet one and one-half inches — the greatest
on record. Many shade trees were planted in Dubuque in 1849;
it was almost a "fad" at this time. The terrible roads leading west-
ward from Dubuque checked nearly all business with the back coun-


try at muddy times. John King, postmaster for over ten years,
resigned in April, 1849. The Alleghanians (minstrels) were here
in May, 1849. By April 24, 1849, the Express said that over sixty
citizens of Dubuque had gone to California. Week after week the
streets were crowded with gold seekers. The Southwestern circus
was here in July, 1849.

In March, 1849, the public was given notice of the approaching
charter election and of the fact that voters would be required to
decide whether the city should borrow $7,000 for public improve-
ments, etc.. and for establishing a free ferry. A mark on the
Emerson & Waples building was established as a permanent basis
for the regulation of street and building grades.

In April, 1849, Warner Lewis became mayor. In May three
causeways were ordered built on Bluff street at First, Second and
Third streets. Drs. J. T. Boone, R. S. Lewis and G. W. Scott were
the sanitary committee in 1849. The council bought fifty barrels of
lime for distribution in view of the appearance of cholera here in
1849. Drs. Boone and Holt were constituted a board of health.
A house for cholera patients was rented of B. Rupert for $4 a
month. A house owned by T. Davis was also thus occupied. The
council bought of Smith & Co. their interest in the powder maga-
zine for $425. John Stafford was permitted to mine on Third
street, the city to receive one-fifth of the mineral raised.

It was realized in June, 1849, that the plan for a Dubuque harbor,
which seemed most likely to be best, was to build a levee out to the
main channel and fill in the intermediate sloughs. Some plan that
would improve existing conditions was deemed imperative. The
Miners' Express of June 13, 1849, said: "Already the largest town
west of the Mississippi and north of St. Louis, situated precisely at
the point of latitude at which the railroads extending west from
the towns upon the lakes must strike the river; surrounded by a
country on all sides, almost illimitable in extent and inexhaustible in
its agricultural and mineral resources — it requires no gift of pro-
phecy to foresee that Dubuque is destined to become and to remain
the great commercial city of the Northwest." This was the spirit
which animated the citizens at this period — Dubuque was to be the
great city of the Northwest. It was realized that Galena aspired
to this proud distinction, but her pretensions were belittled and
denied. However, before even Dubuque could expect such great-
ness and grandeur, a suitable harbor would have to be built, all
admitted. "The space between the present landing and the main
channel of the river, when once filled up, will amply compensate for
the expense to be incurred in executing the work."

During the year 1849 over eighty brick buildings were erected
in Dubuque, many of them large and costly. Main street was vastly
improved — bumps were cut down, hollows filled and buildings of
brick took the place of the old and faded wooden structures. New


stores were built by Powers, Busb, Mangold, Mason, Heeb, Lang-
worthy and the fine Globe buildings at Main and Fifth by Wilson
& Smith. Judge J. J. Dyer, of the United States District court,
had built an elegant mansion on Main street. The city contained
twenty-two stores with stocks ranging from $10,000 to $80,000; one
large wholesale hardware store; two drug stores; one book store;
one boot and shoe store; two tinware manufactories; two auction
and commission merchants; three bakeries; one large manufactory
of confectionery ; seven master builders ; six plasterers ; seven mason
bricklayers; four painters; two master stone masons; one marble
worker; two saddle and harness factories; se\en boot and shoe
factories; nine tailor shops; three milliners and dressmakers; three
jewelers and watchmakers; six cabinet and chair factories; five
blacksmith shops; three carriage and wagon factories; two gun-
smiths : three cooper shops ; five butcheries ; one soap and candle
factory; two livery stables; two large steam flouring mills; one
steam saw mill ; three newspaper and job printing offices ; four
weekly newspapers — two Whig and two Democratic, one of the
latter in German ; eight or ten hotels ; eleven physicians ; seventeen
lawyers; thirteen preachers; churches, one each of Episcopalian.
Catholic, Methodist, Congregational, Christian, Baptist, German
Congregational and German Methodist. The Roman Catholics had
laid the foundation of their large cathedral, the cost being esti-
mated at over 100,000. The Episcopalians were finishing their
Gothic church on Locust street. The Congregational church had
been very much enlarged in 1849. The government offices here
were those of surveyor general, where eight or ten clerks were
employed at from $800 to $1,200 each per year, and with a patron-
age of from $50,000 to $75,000 annually; receiver and register;
judge of the United States district court ; I\Iasons, Odd Fellows and
Sons of Temperance. Population, near 3,500. The first brick
building was erected in 1836. In 1844 the place began to put on a
stable appearance on the ruins of the miners' shanties. The city
now wanted a harbor, railroads to the East, good roads to the West
and other railroads to the western country.

"One would suppose that the millers and merchants of Dubuque
could afford to give as good a price for wheat as is given in the
northern portion of the state. Such, however, appears not to be
the fact. Also buyers at Bellevue have recently paid as high as
68 cents for wheat, while our millers and merchants have been
paying for the best prime wheat 60 cents. We must not be blind
to the effects of this state of things. If the merchants here will not
buy the wheat and pork of the farmer at the best price they can
afiford to give, the farmer will very naturally go where he can do
better, and there he will buy his groceries, clothing, etc." — (Miners'
Exl^rcss, December 12, 1849.)

The total value of taxable property in Dulnu|uc in June, 1849,


was $675,000; at the maximum rate allowed by law this would
yield a revenue of $10,125 ; a tax of 3>:i mills was levied for general
city expenses. In September, 1849, a second California "fever"
struck Dubuque and many more departed. A sharp frost on August
30, 1849, wilted vines and vegetables. Valentine Glenat, prominent
merchant and judge of probate here, died of cholera in the Rocky
mountains while on his way to the gold fields. The harbor question
engrossed much attention in 1849. This year the postoffice was
removed to the Globe building at Main and Sixth streets. William
H. Robbins was postmaster and Alexander Levi was his assistant.
Late in 1849 Holt and Keesecker issued the Miners' Express; Wood
issued the Tribune, and McCraney issued the Telegraph; the latter
leaned toward the Whigs. Thomas McKnight succeeded Warner
Lewis as register, and M. Mobley succeeded George McHenry as
receiver under the change of national administration in 1849.
Cholera on the steamer War Eagle in 1849 frightened the city.

CITY OF DUBUQUE, 1850 TO 1859.

IN January, 1850, Dubuque was without a fire department
of any kind; the loss of a few buildings caused people
to think. "When a building takes fire here, as was the
case with the Goodrich building, everyone runs toward
the scene, anxious to assist in subduing the destructive ele-
ment; but what avails an unorganized set of men and boys
without apparatus of any kind whatever — without an engine,
buckets or hose." — (Express, January 16, 1850.) In January,
1850, Col. Samuel R. Curtis, whose plan was to build a levee
not less than fifty feet wide on top from the city out to the main
channel of the river, estimated the total cost at $29,648. It was
thought at the time that this was tlie cheapest, most practical and
most speedily built of any plan yet proposed.

_ For the fiscal year ending April, 1850, the total receipts of the
city were $6,034.81. and at this time the balance against the city
was $2,484. Among the items of expense were $425 for a powder
house; $168 to Emerson & Shields for lime to sprinkle in the
streets and alleys to ward ofif the cholera, and $100 to Drs. Boone
and Holt for their services as a board of health.

In 1849-50 the Dubuque subscribers to the American Art Union
of New York were Hon. George Green, Francis C. Smith, Timothv
Mason, James Reid, Alfred L. Brown, Eustace H. Smitli, A. D.
Anderson, Harrison Holt, Thomas H. Benton, Jr., William J. Bar-
ney (2), Stephen G. Fenimore and R. Spaulding. Five prizes were
drawn by the Dubuquers as follows: Painting, "Jephtha's Daugh-
ter," worth $350, F. S. Smith, who had recently died; painting,
"Sunset," S. G. Fenimore; outline painting, W. J. Barney; medals,
Timothy Mason and R. Spaulding.

In February, 1850, Dubuque buyers paid more for wlieat than
was paid at any other point on the Mississippi — 75 cents. Daven-
port was paying 60 cents; Galena 60 cents; Bellevue 70 cents;
Catfish Mills y^ cents.

Early in 1850 Dubuque was connected by new mail routes with

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 9 of 56)