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Underground Railroad in Dubuque County

The State Historical Society of Iowa's collections include county-level inventories of people and places associated with the Underground Railroad.

The following have been identified as associated with the Underground Railroad in Dubuque County.

Names appearing in bold font have a completed Iowa Freedom Trail Project biographical form.

Names in normal font are known individuals for whom research has not yet been undertaken. Iowa Freedom Trail biographical files are available for research purposes at the State Historical Research Center in Des Moines.


Underground Railroad Roles

Abolitionist: One who either demanded the immediate abolition of slavery or who showed ferocious hostility to the institution of slavery. Individuals who were both antislavery and abolitionist are listed only as abolitionist.

Anti-Abolitionist: One who opposed the abolition of slavery—this could include slave owners, slave catchers, states' rights supporters, or anyone who simply opposed the views of abolitionists and other anti-slavery people.

Anti-Slavery: One who disliked slavery but did not necessarily demand the immediate abolition of slavery. Individuals listed as anti-slavery were not known abolitionists.

Associated with Jim Lane: One who assisted Jim Lane while he was conducting fugitive slaves out of Kansas and through Iowa during the 1850s. This could be direct help, financial assistance, or other networking.

Associated with John Brown: One who assisted John Brown while he was conducting fugitive slaves out of Kansas and through Iowa during the 1850s. This could be direct help, financial assistance, or other networking.

Bounty Hunter: One who was hired by slave owners to hunt fugitive slaves.

Conductor: One who worked as an Underground Railroad agent by moving fugitive slaves from one point to another.

Contraband: A broad general term referring to an African-American who may not fit exactly into other categories.

Free African-Americans: One of a relatively small number of African-Americans who were not slaves. They may have been granted their freedom from their owners, bought their freedom, or by a grant of freedom from the state of residence.

Freedom Seekers: A modern term to describe the same thing as the traditional term, fugitive slave.

Kansas Free State Cause: An organization designed to help the antislavery cause in Kansas during its territorial phase. This could be through financial assistance to help antislavery people settle in Kansas or by political or vigilant means to try to prevent Kansas from becoming a slave state.

Kidnapped Free African-Americans: Free African-Americans, who were kidnapped and forced into slavery or back into slavery. With poor legal protection for free African-Americans, even in most of the free states, many of them suffered this fate.

Kidnappers: Those who kidnapped fugitive slaves or free African-Americans, usually for hire. Nearly synonymous with Bounty Hunter except that a kidnapper could be a slave owner trying to recover his own property.

Men Arrested by Herbert Hoxie: Hoxie was a federal marshal in Iowa during the Lincoln administration. He arrested a number of critics of the Lincoln administration including several newspaper editors, such as Dennis Mahoney of the Dubuque Herald. It is still argued today whether Hoxie's activities were violations of constitutional rights to freedom of speech, press, and expression.

Reverse Underground Railroad Kidnapping: An occasional situation in Iowa in which slaves were kidnapped by Underground Railroad agents from their owners within the state of Iowa and sent along the Underground Railroad to freedom.

Slave: One who was owned under the law by another.

Slave Catcher: See Bounty Hunter and Kidnappers.

Slave Owner: One who had rights under the law to own other humans, nearly all of African descent, under common chattel laws.

Station Agent: One who worked as an Underground Railroad agent by hiding fugitive slaves in their homes, barns, or elsewhere on their property. One could be both a conductor and a station agent but not necessarily both.

Union League Member: One who joined a pro-Union organization either before, during, or after the Civil War.

Unknown Status: People who have been identified as somehow connected with abolitionists, antislavery people, associates of Jim Lane or John Brown, anti-abolitionists, slaves, fugitive slaves, or bounty hunters/kidnappers/slave catchers, but whose identity has not been clearly established as falling in any of these categories.



Hill, Rev. James (Cascade) (Baptist Minister)

Newbury, Mary Ann (Dubuque)

Newbury, Rev. Samuel (Dubuque) (Presbyterian)

Roberts, unknown first name



Jones, George Wallace

Mahony, Dennis



Trick, William (Dyersville)


Conductors/Station Agents

Merry, Captain Charles H. (?)

Trick, William (Dyersville)


Freedom Seekers

Johnson, “Old Man” (Dubuque)



Montgomery, Ralph (Dubuque)***Case of Ralph


Source: Iowa Freedom Trail Project State Historic Preservation Office of Iowa, December 2017

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