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BURCH, George Benjamin

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BURCH, George Benjamin. (Lyons, NY, Mar. 22, 1836-Dubuque, IA, May 2, 1901). MAYOR. Burch began his working life at the age of fourteen as a clerk in a drug store. He later served in clerical positions before moving west to Portage, Wisconsin. In 1859 he established a partnership in a drug business called Burch & Lewis. He sold his interest in the business the same year and moved to Necedah, Wisconsin where he was a bookkeeper. Burch entered the lumber business by purchasing a small lumber mill in Necedah and moved to Dubuque in 1869.

In Dubuque, Burch established a lumber company with connections to his mills in Necedah. (1) His lumber business there expanded to the degree that he was once president of two large lumber companies in the same community. These companies merged to create the Necedah Lumber Company with Burch as president.

Burch was elected mayor of Dubuque in 1876 and re-elected in 1877 and 1878. During his first term of office the second BOARD OF TRADE was established. Concern over CHOLERA led to passage of an ordinance that privies had to be dug to a depth of 12 feet, 6 inches. The contract between the DIAMOND JO LINE was reviewed and an appropriation was asked for the ferry operated by Bart Linehan. Flooding on July 4th wiped out ROCKDALE. In August, 1876 Congress gave up any claims it had to Washington Square. Interest was shown in a PONTOON BRIDGE across the MISSISSIPPI RIVER. City STREETS were a major issue when it rained. When it was dry, the dust was temporarily kept in check by the city's first street sprinkler. WOLVES were a feared threat during the winter months within the city. The animals were often attracted by teamsters emptying their wagons of butchering byproducts too close to shore, another problem facing the council. Council members were appointed judges during an inspection of the city's gas street lighting.

During his second term, city concerns included work on a channel authorized by Congress, installation of a drinking fountain by Henry COGSWELL in WASHINGTON PARK, and the future of the first electrict light company. There was also the incomplete nature of JACKSON PARK, miners accusing the smelters of cheating them, and the potential of TELEPHONE SERVICE to the community. The tone of the Town Clock was amplified, animals wandering into Washington Park created a nuisance, and there was the continual clamor for constructing more STREETS. The BEE BRANCH continued to flood the north end of Dubuque.

Although he retained his lumber business in Wisconsin, Burch sold his interests in Dubuque in 1881. (2) He became president of the SECOND NATIONAL BANK in 1844 and held the office until his death. He was also president of the DUBUQUE AND NORTHWESTERN RAILROAD; president of the DUBUQUE STEAM SUPPLY COMPANY, director of the NORWEGIAN PLOW COMPANY and the High Bridge Company; trustee of the FINLEY HOSPITAL (THE), CARNEGIE-STOUT PUBLIC LIBRARY, YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION (Y.M.C.A.) and the HOME FOR THE FRIENDLESS; and part owner of the Hotel Julien (now HOTEL JULIEN DUBUQUE). (3)



1. "The Death of Mr. Burch," Dubuque Daily Telegraph, May 3, 1901, p. 4

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

Gue, Benjamin F. and Shambaugh, Benjamin Franklin. Biographies and Portraits of the Progressive Men of Iowa: Leaders in Business, Politics and the Professions; Together with an Original and Authentic History of the State. Volume 1. Des Moines: Conaway and Shaw, 1899, p. 448

"Dubuque Sought Business Methods From Beginning," Telegraph Herald, March 27, 1921, p. 14. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=bi5eAAAAIBAJ&sjid=SmANAAAAIBAJ&pg=6644,4092622&dq=james+fanning+dubuque&hl=en