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Joseph Beach left home in 1857. He spent one year in Chicago and then moved to Dubuque where he formed a partnership with F. M. PLEINS in the DUBUQUE LARD-OIL, SOAP, AND CANDLE FACTORY, soap and candle manufacturers, at the corner of Dodge and Bluff STREETS. Candle-making was dropped and the company was renamed PLEINS & BEACH. (2)
In 1880 Beach bought out Pleins interest. Beach advertised his soap by hiring youth to distribute bars of soap, free-of-charge--to homes throughout the city with a circular explaining the gift.
In 1890 his second son Edward became his partner and the firm was renamed James Beach & Son. The demand for soap led in 1891 to the construction of a large, three-story brick building on the same site and forty men were hired. (3) The youngest son, Charles, joined the business in 1895 and the company was renamed James Beach & Sons. George Beach, the eldest son, joined the business in 1918. (4)
Locally, Beach held the office of city alderman and was the chairman of the city council's finance committee. His efforts resulted in city warrants, once selling at fifteen to twenty cents on the dollar, regaining their par value. He was also credited with securing WASHINGTON PARK and Grandview Avenue for the city.John T. HANCOCK led efforts organizing the LINWOOD CEMETERY Association, purchased the land and laid out the grounds. Beach, president of the Association for many years, was the last surviving member of its original board. He was also an original member of the board and president of FINLEY HOSPITAL (THE) and the GERMAN BANK. At the time of his death, he was president of the DUBUQUE PACKING COMPANY and the firm of James Beach and Sons, then the second oldest company in Dubuque.
1. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, October 31, 1880, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18801031&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
2. Kruse, Len, "Soap-Making Had an Interesting Dubuque Run Before Being Washed Up," Telegraph Herald, May 18, 1991 p. 13
4. "Beach's Soap More than Century Old," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, March 31, 1929, p. 77
Oldt, Franklin T. History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880, p. 764