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History Directory




Dubuque County
Early Settlers' Association



Officers Since Organization Have Been:

Edward Langworthy, Benjamin Rupert, Thomas S. Wilson, John Maclay, Geo. W. Jones, Phineas W. Crawford, Alexander Simplot, William Quigley.


Chandler Childs, Wm. Myers, H. H. Smyth, Thomas Alsop, Dr. J. P. Quigley, Alexander Simplot, Andrew Bahl.


Wni. G. Stewart, Philip Pier.



Jacob Kessler, D. W. Cleveland, Peter Ferring, Walter Cook, E. H. Smith.


Members Index, 738 members listed

Brief Early History of Iowa and Dubuque County

     The year 1803 is memorable in the history of the West for the purchase of Louisiana from France for $15,000,000. This land was known as the New Northwest, and was peopled by aboriginal tribes.  As its Eastern sections were settled by the whites, its political status underwent sundry changes. In 1834 the territory west of the Mississippi River and north of Missouri was a part of the Territory of Michigan.
     On the 4th of July, 1836, Wisconsin Territory was erected, embracing within its limits the present states of Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.  In 1838 the Territory of Iowa was created, comprising the present state, the larger part of Minnesota, and extending north to the boundary' lines of the British possessions.
     In 1836 the town of Dubuque was surveyed and platted by the Government.
     December 28, 1846, Iowa was admitted as a sovereign state into the American Union. Ansel Briggs was its first, and Stephen Hempstead its second governor, the latter a resident of Dubuque.
    General Geo. W. Jones, who also resided in Dubuque County, and Augustus C. Dodge, were its first United States Senators.
    Julien Dubuque, a Frenchman in the employ of the American Fur Co. at Prairie du Chien, where it had a trading post, learning from the Indians of the rich lead region in this locality, came with a number of half-breeds and friendly Indians down the river in canoes in 1788, and made the first settlement in the county, calling it the "Mines of Spain" He identified himself with them by marrying Potosa, the daughter of the Indian Peosta, who was chief of the Fox village located at the mouth of what is now Catfish Creek, and acquired great influence over the Indians, obtaining from them extensive mining rights, extending seven leagues along the Mississippi River and three leagues in width from the river, presumably intending to include the river front between the Little Maquoketa and the Tete des Mort rivers, embracing more than 70,000 acres.
    In 1804 Dubuque transferred the larger part of his claim to Auguste Choteau a French merchant of St. Louis, and in 1805, he and Choteau jointly filed their claims with the Board of Commissioners. The Indians at Dubuque's death claiming that the privilege accorded him was only a permit to work the mines during his life, took possession and continued mining operations and were sustained by the military authority of the United States.
    The heirs of Choteau however, were not disposed to relinquish their claim without a struggle. The case was finally carried to the Supreme Court, where in 1851, it was decided adverse to them, the court holding that the concession was only a lease or permit to work the mines.
    Dubuque was called by the Indians Le Petite Nuit, the little night, presumably on account of his short stature, dark eyes and slightly dark complexion.
    He died in 1810, and his remains lie where they were buried, marked by the monument erected a few miles below the city through the instrumentality of the Early Settlers and the Julien Dubuque Monument Association.
    The lead mines in the Dubuque region had been an object of universal interest to the miners about Galena and there was prevalent a strong disposition to get there. James L. Langworthy, as early as 1829, with a number of others, visited the Indian village of the Sacs and Foxes, near the mouth of the Catfish, for the purpose of working them, but were refused permission. A further attempt was made by Edward Langworthy, the first President of our Association, and three others with him, in February, 1830, but their efforts were also of avail.
    In June however of the same year, Lucius H. Langworthy, James L. Langworthy, Matthew Ham, Dr. K. S. Lewis, A. McNear, and some forty others, finding that the Reynard or Fox Indians had deserted the country contiguous to the Dubuque Mines, for a section further in the interior, in consequence of hostilities committed upon them by the Sioux. crossed the river to establish themselves in mining, about Dubuque's estate. The Indian title had not lapsed and being outside any state or territorial government these settlers adopted such laws as were applicable to the exigencies of the times and gravity of the situation.
    After a few months of mining operations they were notified by Col. Taylor in command of Fort Crawford, that they were trespassing upon the terms of the treaty between the Government and the Indians, directing them to leave Iowa within two weeks.
    Their dilatory action in obeying the order induced Col. Taylor to send a detachment of troops under Lieutenant Jefferson Davis to enforce it. The Government troops guarded the mines until during the Black Hawk war against the very Indians whose property they had been so recently defending. The treaty of peace, known as the Black Hawk purchase, which included the territory of Dubuque County, extending from the foot of Rock Island and westward 50 miles, running parallel to the river, that distance northward to the mouth of the Upper Iowa River, became vested in the Government, leaving the field open to prospective settlers.
    In the latter part of the summer of 1832, Thos. McCraney, Hosea Camp and a few others crossed the river and were followed in the fall by those who had been forced to leave the mines. These were the advance guard in laying the permanent foundation of the settlement of our beautiful city.


The following is a copy of the Constitution adopted in 1865 and as amended subsequently in that year, and also on December 17, 1868, and June 28, 1894.


       Whereas, In the Providence of God we became pioneers in the settlement of the rich and fertile County of Dubuque, in the State of Iowa; and
       Whereas, The number of Early Settlers is fast decreasing, and many of us will soon go to that bourne from whence no traveler returns; and
       Whereas, We desire to gather and preserve the memory of a settlement that has grown so rapidly and has been so abundantly prospered; and believing that recollections of the past, the happiness of the present, and the hopes of the future, should unite us as a band of brothers, we have formed an Association and now adopt this Constitution:


       Article 1. This Association shall be known and designated as The Early Settlers' Association of Dubuque County.
       Article 2. The officers shall be a President, five Vice-Presidents, a Secretary and a Treasurer, who shall be chosen annually at a meeting in June. Special Meetings may be held by adjournment, by call of the President, or on the request of five members.
       Article 3. All persons who are now residents of Dubuque County, and who were in the Upper Mississippi Lead Region for the last twenty-five years are eligible to membership, and shall be considered members after signing the Constitution, or authorizing the enrolling of their names.
       Article 4. The membership fee shall be one dollar. Ladies may become members without cost.
       Article 5. The funds of the Association shall be used for defraying incidental expenses, for biographies, and for such other purposes as the Association may direct.

       Among the objects of this Association are the following: To collect data, memoranda and historical facts, referring to the early history of Dubuque City and County.
      To attend funerals of deceased members in a body, and by occasional social meetings to revive the recollections and preserve the memory of the scenes, events and incidents for the last sixty-one years.
      To encourage the publication of a proper history of Dubuque.
      To collect the photographs and portraits, as far as possible, of all the members of the Association.
      To have a room where the early settlers of Dubuque and their visiting friends may meet at any time and amuse themselves by examining the files of old newspapers of Dubuque, the relics collected, a historical library referring to the Northwestern states, and give such information to the Secretary as will enable him to perfect the records of the early history of Dubuque County, for publication.
      The donation of a photograph is at the option of the member.  The Association will thank any member, or other person, for any relics, curiosities, old books, papers, or letters, which may be of interest to the collection or add to the history of early settlements.
      All members of the Association, and others interested in the objects stated, are invited to call and receive a copy of the Constitution and also to sign their names to the list of members, if entitled to do so, at the office of the Secretary.




Organized June 10, 1865.

Certificate of Membership

This Certifies, That ................................................................................................................ is a Life Member of this Association from the date of........................................................................................

Attest : ........................................................................................ Secretary.

    ..........................................................................................  President.

    ..........................................................................................  Treasurer.











 PIER, Treasurer.


     I am indebted to Mr. Richard Herrmann of this city, for the use of his highly interesting manuscript history of the "Life and Adventures of Julien Dubuque," from which, in a desultory way, I have selected interesting incidents and general details of his life.
     From its pages we learn that Julien Dubuque was the first in this country of that name. Jean Dubuque, his father, came from the Parish of Trinity, Diocese of Rouen, in France, and married in Quebec in 1668. His descendents later established themselves in the District of Three Rivers, and on the 10th of January, 1762 Julien Dubuque first saw the light of day at St. Pierre les Bicquets in the County of Nicolet, on the banks of the St. Lawrence. He received the best schooling that the border towns of the newly settled country could afford and his shrewdness and diplomacy of after years showed good results therefrom and had much to do with shaping his future career in life. As he grew up to manhood the glowing descriptions of the far west, its forests and waters teeming with game, fur-bearing animals and fish of all kinds, its mineral resources and other possibilities, stimulated his ambition to explore the unknown land. Starting in the summer of his twenty-second year from Three Rivers, his course in order to reach his objective point, the Mississippi, was up the north shore of the St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario, thence by batteau or canoe, work his way along the north shore of that lake until he arrived at the foot of the cataract of Niagara, and from thence, accompanied by two or three Indians or half breeds, they carried the canoes on their shoulders above the falls, for re-embarkation. The fort at Sandusky and occasional trading posts along the shores of Lakes Erie and Huron afforded them their necessary supplies. At the fort on the Island of Mackinac a short halt was made. Thence with two Canadian voyageurs for companions, paddling through the straits of Mackinac, they entered Lake Michigan paddling their canoes near the northern shore westward, and entered Green Bay going thence into Fox River and into Lake Winnebago.
     Here in a village of the Miamies and Kickapoos they remained for some time. The chief, with whom Dubuque became quite friendly, and from whom he obtained the secret of a root which would cure the bite of the venomous rattlesnakes that abounded in the country, furnished them with two Indians and two birch bark canoes to conduct him over the Portage to the headwaters of the Wisconsin River.  Here they launched their canoes upon the Wisconsin for their descent to the Great River, accompanied by their guides, stopping only to prepare their meals or camping for the night. On reaching the Mississippi they found three other white men Gautier De Vorville, Michael Brisbois, and Capt. Fisher, a Scotchman located at the trading post of Prairie du Chien, lying a short distance above the mouth of the Wisconsin, and stopped with them, passing their time in exploring the surrounding country on their hunting expeditions. They freely used their canoes in getting acquainted with the Great River and Dubuque soon became known to, and traded with the Indians, and in 1785 established himself in Prairie du Chien, where he and his comrades, Basil Giard, and Pierre Autaga, were among its first inhabitants. Young Dubuque's active and lively nature soon got him on good terms with the Indians and gave him a wonderful influence over them.
     By means of ingenious artifices and pretended magic conjuration he so' surpassed the juggleries of the Indians that he was regarded as a supernatural being. His sure cure or antidote for poison of the rattlesnake, derived from the chief of the Kickapoos, was a great success, so much so that he was thought to have power by speaking to the reptiles to make them docile and harmless. His utterances were regarded as oracles and he became recognized as their arbiter in disputed cases. One instance is told wherein two Indians under the influence of whiskey, seized a stray horse and both getting on his back rode wildly across the prairie; suddenly the horse out of breath, sank down and rolling over on one of his riders, an Indian was killed. The relatives of the victim cried out for vengeance on his companion, whilst those of the latter claimed it was caused by an accident; finally the case was submitted to Dubuque. He listened attentively to their statements and then in a grave and solemn voice pronounced his judgment: "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, nothing is more just whoever sheds blood merits death. I order that two Indians chosen by each family shall mount this same horse and then drive him at his greatest speed across the prairies until one or the other of them shall perish." This decision, showing that the horse was the sole cause of the accident, put an end to the dispute.
     Dubuque learned from Fisher, that in 1780 the wife of Peosta, chief of the Foxes, living some distance below on the west side of the river, had discovered a lead ore mine thereabouts, and the further report that additional lead ore had been unearthed in that vicinity promptly made up his mind that he would secure possession of the mineral land of that region.
    Taking a companion with him in his canoe, he went down the river to the Fox village, where the Muskwickis of the Foxes lived, at the mouth of what is now known as Catfish Creek. Here he met Peosta. the chief of the tribe, a man of splendid physique, over six feet tall, and his handsome young daughter Potosa, both of whom received him amicably, and he was much impressed by her appearance and the noble dignity of the red man. He made them presents of glass beads, small brass bells and other trinkets dear to the Indian and the feminine heart, but found them reticent about giving information regarding the lead mines, and returned nevertheless well satisfied, to Prairie du Chien.
    He thereafter made repeated visits taking with him presents, and completely ingratiated himself with the tribe, Peosta, and its several chiefs among whom he was called Le Petite Nuit, presumably from his being short of stature and dark complexioned. But more particularly was he successful in carrying away the pride of the five villages, the beautiful Potosa, whom he married according to their rites, after having been initiated into a knowledge of Manitou and taken into the tribe as one of their braves.
    Thence forward the obtaining possession of the mines was an easy matter. Dwelling for a year with Potosa in Peosta's wigwam, as was customary with the tribe after the taking of a wife, and affectionately regarded as a brave, he was readily granted at a great council of the savages held at Prairie du Chien, September 22, 1788, the sole mining rights over a domain of about 148,171 acres of ground, which included the mine discovered by the wife of Peosta.
    This act of concession of the Indians to Dubuque has been preserved and is contained fully in Mr. Herrmann's interesting narrative. Dubuque found that the mines were worked in a very primitive way ---  the mining being done by the squaws and children, and only then when driven by necessity to get ore enough for the necessaries of life. They would put down a shaft leaving the under side inclined, enabling them to pull up by hand the rocks and lead ore from the depths of the mine. A windlass and rope was unknown to them. Their rope was made of bark fibres and was secured to a sack for holding ore, earth or rocks, made of buffalo hide or deer skin. The lead was smelted in the rudest form of oven and thus traded off in exchange for articles they wanted and was mostly shipped to St. Louis. Dubuque worked the mines which he called The Mines of Spain, in a systematic manner, building better smelting furnaces, and run the lead into more suitable shape, known as pig-lead, for handling, which he boated to St. Louis, disposing of them there for ready cash. These trips were gala days with him; at a dance, with a violin and bow in hand, he would gayly trip the light fantastic, Money Musk, or Virginia Reel, to the sound of his own music, and the admiration of his compatriots. On his return he would bring back such things suitable to his own use, or for trade with the Indians, not omitting to please his Indian wife with the trinkets she admired. "On one of these trips he brought up a good sized old-fashioned brass cannon purchased at St. Louis, and installed it upon the point of land immediately under the bluff fronting the river and north of the creek. Under this bluff he erected a log house for his home and built a stone wall about the point enclosing the ground, apparently, in defense of which, the cannon might be used if necessary for its protection.
    The prosperity that attended Dubuque in his management of the lead mines excited the jealousy of the Indians and various pretexts were made to dispossess him of his mining rights. He had however worked on their fears with such ingenious stratagems that they regarded him as one clothed with supernatural powers and shrunk from going too far in their efforts.
    A dispute arose over a demand Dubuque had made of them, but the Indians after days of conferences stubbornly refused to yield to him. Happening to have a barrel of turpentine among his goods, he emptied it just after dark on the sluggish waters of the creek. Building a large bonfire on the bank he called the Indians suddenly from their lodges for consultation. When all were seated about the fire he harangued them on the obligations they were under for benefits he had conferred, and promised more if they would grant him the favor asked for. But the chiefs refused to yield another point in his favor, and warned him to beware of their vengeance if he persisted any longer in his demands. Dubuque instantly assumed a defiant air, and threatened to execute the vengeance of the Manitou upon them for their ingratitude. They still sat unmoved, when he seized a fire brand, and telling them he would burn up the creek as proof he was the great Spirit, threw the burning ember into the stream.
    A sheet of flame rose instantly, and with a shriek of terror, each Indian arose to his feet. Now, said Dubuque, with all the majesty he could assume, now, if you do not yield, I will burn your creek, your canoes, your wigwams, yourselves! I will set fire to the Mississippi and burn it up. But I loved you before you hated me, and will forgive you, if the great Manitou will let me. I give you the time of only one breath to answer me, if not, the river will burn. The Indians fell before him prostrate in adoration. The head chief thanked him for their lives, and granted all he asked. This was the last of Dubuque's strategic victories over the Indians. Everything he asked thereafter of them was granted, and it was not until after his death that they dared to drive his followers from the soil.
    In 1796, the country being under the control of Spain, Dubuque presented a petition to Governor Carondelet at New Orleans regarding his ownership of the mines, which was granted under certain restrictions would refer to Mr. Herrmann's book for details.
   The year 1803 brought Dubuque under the sway of our government. In 1804 he sold to Auguste Choteau of St. Louis for $18,848.60  72,324 acres of his land and the conveyance provided that at the death of Dubuque, all the remainder of his territory should become the property of Choteau or his heirs.
   In 1805 Lieutenant Zebulon Pike was detailed to explore the headwaters of the Mississippi river and make treaties with the Indians along its shores. With a force of twenty soldiers he embarked in a keel boat at St. Louis and made his way up the river. On reaching Dubuque's fortifications they were, much to their surprise, received by a sonorous salute from the brass cannon and Old Glory was for the first time spread out to the breeze in Dubuque County. As this was the advent of the first Americans who had visited this territory much civility was shown them.
   Dubuque continued to work at his mines and was meeting with abundant success when death suddenly surprised him in the spring of 1810. Unfortunately he left no one to succeed him in his enterprise. His death caused a veritable consternation among the savages.
    From all parts of the surrounding country they gathered to assist at his obsequies.
    The most celebrated chiefs carried his remains to their last resting place the romantic bluff overlooking his home and the scenes of his labors, which the Early Settlers and the Julien Dubuque Monument Association have still further marked with a lasting monument to his memory. Eloquent tributes were paid by the chiefs in their forceful and symbolic language, describing his life "as brilliant as the sun at midday; but as fleeting as the snow which disappears under the sun's warm rays. The memory of Dubuque was so well preserved amongst the surrounding tribes, that for many years they kept each night a lamp burning on his grave. They constructed a stone building or vault over his grave, which I (the writer of this article) saw in a complete condition in the year 1845, from the deck of the steamboat Mendota, while on my way to St. Louis with my father.  I recollect it well, the early morning sun giving it a glittering appearance as though it had been whitewashed. A cross stood about three feet northeast of the tomb which at the time I saw it consisted of only the upright in a slightly leaning condition, some ten or twelve feet in height, the cross piece of which was said to contain the words "Julien Dubuque, died March 14, 1810, aged 45 years and 6 months," was nowhere to be seen, but the mortise in the upright piece (some 6 inches in width) where it fitted into showed it had been there. No more fitting termination to this article could be conceived than to close it with Dubuque's burial.
     Mr. Richard Herrmann's book of 320 pages and its illustrations should be published for the good of the community. The brief extracts I make from its pages are but the sippings of its contents. Alexander
Simplot, Secretary Early Settlers' Association.

Song for the Early Settlers

Composed by JUDGE NOURSE of Des Moines

~~~ *** ~~~

The Early Settler's Picnic has come around again,

And we compose the party of those that yet remain

To exchange our happy greetings, and to ]om m the refram,

As we go marching on.


Glory, Glory,  hallelujah; glory, glory, hallelujah ;
Glory, glory, hallelujah, as we go marching on.

"Tis very many years ago since we all came out west

To groy up with the country that is now the yery best;

God gave the soil and climate, and the settlers did the rest,

When they came marching on.

Our hearts and homes are here in dear old Iowa,

We are the early settlers that settled here to stay

And there's not a soul among us that ever rued the day, 

When they came marching on.

We may seem a little older and our heads are silyered o'er,

But our hearts are just as young as they were in days o yore.

And we are thankful for the blessings that we're haying still in store.

While we go marching on.

Our column is unbroken, though some have gone before,

And have crossed the shining river, and have reached the other shore

Where they wait to give us greeting, as they did in days of your,

When we came marching on

There's no better land than this to live and love together,

To bear the heat of summer, or to face the stormy weather.

So sing you hallelujah. Old Iowa Forever,

As we go marching on.

Our nation is united as it never was before,

We are happy and contented with Old Glory floating o'er.

We are coming. Father Abraham, with many millions more.

While we go marching on.

Total number of members from date of organization, 738
Total number of living members, 457.
~~Dubuque County Early Settlers' Association, author Dubuque County Early Settlers' Association, Iowa Farmer Publishers, Telegraph-Hearld Printers, Dubuque; Library of Congress  0 016 085 705 5
~~ transcribed by Constance Diamond

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