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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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BELL TAVERN. Constructed in 1833, the Bell Tavern was located on the corner of Main and Fourth. (1) It has been considered the town's first substantial structure constructed of logs and partially sawed lumber. (2) A center of society in those early day, patrons were entertained and encouraged to dance by Jessie Harrison, the proprietor of the house and Antoine Sociere, a violinist. Sociere did not perform "The Beautiful Blue Danube" or "The Riggoletti" but did carry the dancers away with "Old Zip Coon," "Billy in the Low Grounds" and "Old Dan Tucker" between 1833 and 1837. (3)

On November 6, 1833 Pastor Barton Randall, a thirty-seven-year-old Georgia native assigned to Dubuque as a missionary, crossed the MISSISSIPPI RIVER and delivered his first sermon in the building. (4)

On June 20, 1834 Patrick O'CONNOR was to be hung after being convicted of murder. When a rumor was spread that a group of Wisconsin miners were headed to Dubuque to free him, one hundred and sixty-three men, with loaded rifles formed into line on Main street in front of the Bell Tavern. They elected Loring Wheeler Captain of the Company, and Ezra Madden, Woodbury MASSEY, Thomas R. Brasher, John Smith and Milo H. Prentice, marshals of the day. These men escorted the condemned to the gallows. (5)



1. "The Old Bell Tavern," Dubuque Daily Herald, August 21, 1894, p. 4

2. Sommer, Lawrence J. The Heritage of Dubuque-An Architectural View," East Dubuque: Tel Graphics, 1975, p. 34

3. "The Old Bell Tavern..."

4. St. Luke's United Methodist Church. "Our History." Online: http://www.stlukesumcdbq.com/welcome/about-us/

5. Price, Eliphalet. "Dubuque in Early Times," Annals of Iowa, October 1865, XII, Online: http://iagenweb.org/dubuque/history/annals/Oct_1865_3.htm