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Jesse P. Farley


JESSE P. FARLEY, who died May 8, 1894, was President of the Farley & Loetscher Manufacturing Company, and was long a prominent citizen of Dubuque. He was held in the highest regard throughout the community and left to his family the priceless heritage of an untarnished name. A native of Tennessee, he was born April 2, 1813, and four years later was taken by his parents to St. Louis. At the age of fourteen he started for Galena, Ill., on the steamboat "Indiana," and when he had arrived at his destination he began working in the mines as a smelter, being thus employed until 1833. That year witnessed his arrival in Dubuque. He sought and obtained employment in the grocery and general store belonging to John Johnson, with whom he remained for several years.

The business career of Mr. Farley was one of success. he started out in life with no capital save a pair of willing hands and a young man's bright hope of the future. His sterling worth and strict integrity soon won him the confidence and esteem of all with whom he was brought in contact and he became one of the leading merchants of the city. he first opened a grocery store and his trade so rapidly increased that after a few years he was at the head of the wholesale dry-goods firm of Farley, Norris & Co. He also embarked in other enterprises as his financial resources increased and was connected with many leading industries of the city. He was a member of the wholesale grocery firm of Farley, James & Co., and of Farley & Christman, wholesale dealers in hardware, and Farley, Rouse & Co., dealers in heavy machinery. He established all these enterprises a few years after locating in Dubuque and all proved most profitable, so that Mr. Farley became one of the wealthy citizens of the community.

In 1850 he established a line of steamboats between St. Paul and St. Louis, and thereby Dubuque became the most important city on the Mississippi between those places. He was also prominently connected with railroad interests, wishing to provide better shipping facilities. In the financial panic of 1857 he lost much of his property, but, undaunted, set to work to retrieve his lost possessions. After being interested in railroads for a time he returned to Dubuque and organized the mammoth sash and door manufacturing concern of Farley, Loetscher & Co., of which he was the heaviest stockholder and president until his death.

Mr. Farley was married in Galena in 1833 to Miss Mary P. Johnson, daughter of his first partner in Dubuque. She died in 1844 leaving four children, Charles W., John P., George W. and Francis A. In 1845 he wedded Mary L. Johnson a niece of his first wife, and their children are Harry G., Edwin B., Jesse K., Fred H. and Warren C.

Mr. Farley was a public-spirited and progressive citizen and did all in his power to advance the best interests of this community. On several occasions he served as City Alderman and was also Mayor for three terms, but he never sought political preferment, and desired rather to give his entire time and attention to his business interests and the enjoyment of the home circle. He was one of the most faithful and consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal Church; he gave the lot on which the church was built and long served as Trustee of the church.

His life was honorable and upright in every way and he did much for the uplifting of humanity. He was a strong advocate of temperance principles, and vice in every form was unknown to him. The poor and needy found in him a benefactor, and those who worked for him found him a just and honorable employer. To his friends he was ever faithful and true, and to his family he was a loving and tender husband and father. In his death Dubuque lost one of its best citizens, for a noble life was thus ended. He became a Republican on the organization of that party.

~source: Portrait and Biographical Record of Dubuque, Jones and Clayton Counties, Iowa. Chicago: Chapman Publishing Co. 1894. Pages 126-127.

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